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Bahrain & migrant worker’s rights 3, June 2009

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Bahrain.
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Perhaps it was too good to be true. Bahrain’s attempts to curb the worst excesses of the abuse of their migrant workers appear to be foundering on objections of the Bahrain business lobby. As I discussed at the beginning of May, Bahrain was changing its sponsorship system whereby workers would be sponsored by a Government Ministry and not by individual companies. This welcomed move would, theoretically, mean that there is more direct accountability for the plight of the workers.

However, the largest political society and parliamentary bloc Al Wefaq has thrown its weight behind attempts to postpone, amend and – essentially- block the new law coming into force. According to the Gulf Times:

Businessmen and several political societies have put Al Alawi [Bahrain’s Labour Minister] under siege since he announced the decision to scrap the sponsorship system. Under relentless pressure from the powerful business community, the parliament last week voted to include a clause in the new labour law that would make it mandatory for foreign workers to stay for at least one year with their employers before switching jobs.

Thus begins the watering down of the legislation which surely will not end here. At this point one must fear that if indeed such a law ever emerges from the Parliament, that it will be toothless remnant of its (already not overly-strong) former self.

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Comments»

1. Victoria - 3, June 2009

This is very disappointing and a step backwards. I had been so enthusiastic and optimistic about the change in direction coming from Bahrain. For example, here in Kuwait it sent ripple effects, with the Ministry of Labour calling for a meeting soon after the Bahrain announcement to discuss the sponsorship system domestically. What is true, is that the potential for Bahrain to become a moral compass on this issue in the GCC region would prove so valuable to propel the norm for labor rights, especially since officials had framed the issue around “bringing Bahrain into the 21st century”. This would be the true sign of modernity, not the skyscraper landmarks this corrupt system built.

2. Bahrain & migrant worker's rights « The Gulf blog | Bahrain Today - 3, June 2009

[…] Original post: Bahrain & migrant worker's rights « The Gulf blog […]


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