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Training urged for labour inspectors

Bahrain News
Sat, 02 Apr 2016
By Raji Unnikrishnan

Bahrain: Labour  inspectors have been accused of taking decisions without having proper knowledge of the various job sectors in Bahrain.

Such ill-judged actions by Labour Market Regulatory Authority’s (LMRA) monitors following surprise site visits are causing huge losses, claimed businessmen.

The concern was raised at a consultative meeting of the Bahrain Asian Traders Committee with LMRA representatives at the Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Sanabis.

“Labour inspectors need to be properly educated about the sectors that they are scrutinising,” said Mukesh and Brothers chief executive Mukesh Chhaganlal.

“Some of them have no understanding of the situation and most often fail to understand that not all sites they inspect are workshops or factories.

“For instance, in the gold business, we have goldsmiths employed in our shops who might have to visit a workshop to oversee a job as it is not possible for gold to be taken from one place to another.

“When these goldsmiths are in one of our own shops and if there is an inspection by the LMRA, the young inspectors consider the workers illegal.

“They refuse to listen to our explanation and take action and our commercial licences are blocked.

“While we appreciate the efforts of LMRA to tackle illegal employment, we urge the authority to train the inspectors properly so that they have proper knowledge of each job sector.”

Mr Chhaganlal said it took more than a year for him to resolve a case filed following a similar incident.

“The inspectors immediately blocked the commercial registration (CR) and the case was in court for 18 months before I could get the block lifted.

“All this time my visas were blocked which affected my staff. I also faced losses apart from numerous other business issues.”

Chunnilal Purushottam and Company chief executive Hemant Patel raised the issue of employees under local transfer being targeted.

“Three of my accountants, whom I hired locally from reputed companies in Bahrain according to the rules, were branded illegal by LMRA inspectors, as their visas were under transfer.

Mobility

“They had their mobility and release from their former employer and the process to change their visas to my company was going on.

“But the inspectors marked it as an offence and the three Pakistani men were taken to a police station and later jailed for a month.

“All this happened when 15 visas were available under my CR.

“I had to send them home at my own expense and they could not enter Bahrain even after I had their visas processed, which again was a lengthy process.

“If the inspectors act without assessing a case properly, it could lead to a lengthy and messy situation.

“It takes only a minute to mark an offence or file a case but it takes months or even years to get it resolved.

“This is not helping the businesses at all.”

Abid and Arif Company chairman Taher Hameed expressed his concerns over a ceiling on visas, which he said was often not “logical”.

“I opened five outlets of my new company in City Centre Bahrain for which I am paying BD15,000 rent and the LMRA approved only two visas for me out of my request for 10,” he said.

“I don’t find it logical. How can anyone run five outlets with two employees and manage a business that costs me thousands of dinars’ investment.

“Following repeated requests, I was granted two more and later one more. So now I have five visas.

“I wish the authority looks into this and helps us so that losses can be minimised.”

LMRA operations vice-president Ali Al Kooheji said the inspectors were simply
following rules.

“They are doing their job as per the LMRA rules and regulations,” he told the GDN.

“However, we will look into the issues raised by the business community. Most of the complaints seem to be individual in nature.

“As regards the ceiling on visas, there is a designated helpdesk at the LMRA offices, where the businessmen can sort the situation out with a LMRA official.”

The GDN reported last week that a new LMRA centre will be set up in May specifically to address the woes of Bahrain’s business community, as announced by Mr Al Kooheji.

raji@gdn.com.bh

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