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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.