17 February 2018

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04/30/2008 BAHRAIN

In Manama, a minister wants to abolish the law on the "trafficking" of labourers

Foreign workers are prey to their employers: without their permission, they cannot enter the country, nor stay there, nor change jobs. Now the state wants to permit the free circulation of labourers. But it is encountering strong opposition from businessmen.

Manama (AsiaNews/Agencies) - Bahrain's labour minister, Majeed Al Alawi, is insisting on the abolition of the current law that permits employers to keep their employees powerless and drive them out of the country whenever they want. But there is strong opposition from businessmen. Yesterday the minister repeated the intention, shared also by the reigning prince and by the president of the office for economic development, Shaikh Salman Bin Hamad Al Khalifa, to "abolish the practice of sponsorship, liberalise the labour market and allow free movement of labour, irrespective of nationality", by the end of 2008.

The current regulations do not permit workers to enter the country without the "patronage"of an employer, and they also need the employer's permission to change jobs or leave the country.  The labourer is entirely subject to the power of the employer, who at any moment can fire him and drive him out of the country, or can give his labour contract to someone else without any possibility of disagreement from the employee.

The system has often been accused by international bodies as an evident violation of fundamental rights, and a form of "human trafficking".

Now the minister has announced that the International Labour Organisation and Bahrain's Labour Market Regulatory Authority are studying how to abolish the system. 

But businessmen are forcefully opposing the changes, especially the norm that would permit foreign workers to change jobs without the agreement of their employer.  During a debate on April 18 they accused the public authorities of being "keen to enhance the image of Bahrain in the field of human rights at the expense of local people's interests".

See also

05/12/2017 11:48:00 MYANMAR - THAILAND
In five months, over 155,000 irregular Burmese workers returned from Thailand

The exodus caused by fear of Bangkok government’s new labor laws. Fines of between 1000 and 2 thousand euros for all foreigners without regular permits and sentences of up to five years in prison. The influx has overburdened social agencies and the border crossing between Myanmar and Thailand. Returning migrants victims of extortion by the Thai security forces. In Thailand there are about 4-5 million migrant workers, 1 million are illegal.

26/05/2010 CHINA
Wave of suicides at Foxconn’s Shenzhen plant: alienating work
The plant had its ninth suicide yesterday. It manufactures Apple components. The company reacts by insisting that it respects workers’ rights and by opening its doors to the press. Many employees complain about an alienating job regimented by military-style discipline.

13/03/2015 CAMBODIA
Textile workers in Cambodia "victims of systematic abuse, violence and exploitation"
Denounced by Human Rights Watch. Women subjected to episodes of sexual abuse and mistreatment. Appeal to the government and major international brands to protect workers. 700 thousand people are employed in the manufacturing industry, with a volume of exports amounted to 5.3 billion dollars.

30/04/2009 TURKEY
May 1 a holiday again, after 30 years
It has not been celebrated since 1977, when there was the massacre of 36 workers in Taksim. There are difficulties for tomorrow as well. The economic crisis is testing the country, and unemployment is high in both urban and rural areas. The scourge of black market and child labor.

25/11/2006 BAHRAIN
For the first time all citizens to vote for parliament
In the 2002 elections widespread protest led to a low turnout. This year's campaign saw intense rivalry between Sunnis and Shiites. Whatever happens experts believe the country will be different. All candidates pledge change.

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