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TUC opposes UK trade talks with Gulf states abusing human rights

Report type
Consultation response
Issue date
Key findings

The TUC has responded to the government consultation on trade talks with Gulf Cooperation Council states highlighting that the government should not enter into trade talks due to systematic violations of human and workers’ rights taking place.  

Key violations include taking place in Gulf Cooperation Council states include:

  • the 'kafala' system which ties a migrant worker’s visa to a specific employer. This has entrenched a system of modern slavery and fuelled the exploitation of millions of migrant workers. 
  • trade unions outlawed or severely repressed
  • exploitation and violence against domestic workers 
  • hundreds of construction workers killed in the construction of World Cup 2022 stadiums in Qatar due to poor health and safety and lack of migrant workers' rights
  • impunity for violence against women (which has increased markedly during the pandemic) with 'honour killings' punishable only with fines in Kuwait
  • abortion only permitted on health or therapeutic grounds, and in Saudi Arabia requiring male permission

The TUC calls on the government to engage with trade unions on these concerns and ensure UK trade promotes human rights and International Labour Organisation standards.

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