New cell to address foreign workers’ grievances in Bahrain

February 24th, 2008 - 8:00 pm ICT by admin  

Dubai, Feb 24 (IANS) A new grievances cell will be set up in Bahrain to address complaints from expatriate workers in the country’s construction industry. The new cell will be set up at the Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) and will be run by the chamber’s contractors committee, according to local media reports.

“Though there are similar grievances cells at the Labour Ministry, such a move by the private sector will encourage more workers to speak directly to representatives of the business community,” vice-chairman of Bahrain’s Labour Market Regulatory Authority Farouk Almoayyed told the Gulf Daily News.

He said the committee would act as a first point of contact for construction workers to air their grievances.

A spate of strikes hit the country’s booming construction industry this month with foreign workers demanding higher wages and better living and working conditions.

A fall in the value of the dollar-pegged Bahraini dinar (BD) by about 20 percent in the last one year also added to the workers’ woes.

The Indian embassy in Bahrain recently issued a notification stating that effective March 1, the minimum salary for Indian workers in that country would be BD100 ($266) a month.

A large number of the 275,000 expatriate Indians in that Gulf nation work as contract labour in the construction industry.

Stating that workers needed to be treated well, Almoayyed said, “Workers should never be mistreated. Every effort should be made to maintain peace and harmony at work places.”

BCCI contractors committee chairman Samir Nass told the newspaper that a meeting of the contractors committee would be held within two weeks to work out details of the new cell.

“We shall do it under BCCI regulations. We shall try to have a dedicated telephone line to listen to the workers’ grievances,” he was quoted as saying.

He said his committee would also issue guidelines to its members on improving working conditions of labourers.

“Workers who are not happy with conditions at labour camps are also free to approach our committee so that we can take it up with the concerned companies or the Labour Ministry,” he stated.

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