ACCUSATIONS by MPs that Bahraini employees were being “enslaved” by their expatriate superiors were rejected by Labour and Social Development Minister Jameel Humaidan yesterday.
He told MPs that employees who feel prejudiced against can complain to the ministry which will then provide the needed assistance.
The minister was responding to a question by parliament legislative and legal affairs committee chairman Shaikh Majid Al Majid on moves to ensure that Bahrainis in Asry are not sacked.
“We have an entire labourers’ complaints directorate besides other bodies dealing with problems workers face in their companies and establishments and we investigate them professionally and transparently.
“In Bahrain, we don’t have slavery practices. There may be some unlawful acts, but again our doors are open.
“Asry has resolved its financial situation and it has agreed that no Bahraini would be sacked.
“It has laid off 226 expatriate workers and opening the door to voluntary retirement.
“A total of 120 Bahrainis applied for voluntary retirement; 80 requests were accepted with the rest not conforming to the country’s pension regulations.
“So, no Bahraini was axed from his job.”
Shaikh Al Majid criticised the minister for defending Asry, saying that the whole executive management was expatriate except for one Bahraini.
“Asry has been ‘foreignised’. They enslave Bahraini workers to force them to retire so they can replace them with Indians who they can easily control and manipulate,” he said.
“I understand that Asry is in debt and has not made any profits. Bahrainis accepted not having annual pay rises but they are now being told to go on early retirement or else face the heat – this is unfair.”
Meanwhile, Mr Humaidan said 200 requests to collect funds by charitable and social societies were rejected by authorities in the last five years due to credibility issues.
In response to another question, he said out of 623 requests for permission since March 2013, 389 funding applications were approved following thorough scrutiny and assessment.
Thirty-four requests were still under study due to lack of clarity over the fund-raising campaign.
Mr Humaidan said that fund-raising was under strict monitoring and licensing to ensure it was not misused.
He also said in response to another question that 1,517 illegal expatriate workers have legalised their stay in Bahrain since a new work permit scheme was launched last July.
He said that the Labour Market Regulatory Authority, of which he is the board chairman, has managed to collect BD609,763 until the end of October from the two-year flexi work permit.
There are an estimated 60,000 illegal workers in the kingdom.
Youth and Sport Affairs Minister Hisham Al Jowder responded to a question by parliament first vice-chairman Ali Al Aradi on projects planned this year in the Northern Governorate.