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A labour scandal...

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Viewpoint by WINFRED PEPPINCK


Why does it happen, again and again?

These people are not “untermenschen,” the Nazi German Second World War term, in describing so-called, “inferior people.”

Yet some people appear to think such people exist. 

I refer to the 120 desperate people, who fronted their embassies, claiming not receiving any wages for six months.

They took strike action to draw attention to their plight, because allegedly for months, nothing was done to alleviate their plight.

Passports allegedly taken by their employer, visas neither renewed, nor their CPRs. In effect, prisoners in Bahrain, and now “illegals.”

The management, though approached, allegedly ignored requests for wage relief, failing to react when their electricity supply went down for two weeks.

The same “management” that confined these poor wretches “10 to a room” in a squalid garage.  

Simply illegal under Bahrain’s labour laws, denying habitation and fire hazard provisions.

An accident waiting to happen.

The workers raised their concerns with the Labour Market Regulation Authority, but were merely referred to the Labour Ministry.

More delays and internal duck shoving, but no action, so eventually a strike, embassy reaction and the GDN applying the media blowtorch to the obfuscation belly.

In the understandable brouhaha which followed, management denied worker claims and say they can prove wages payment, which is again, firmly refuted by the workers.

We will see.

“Management” alleges they are resolving the issue, but it’s a case of pleading, “oh poor we,” because of the economic downturn following the fall in oil prices and the government’s imposition of austerity.

Not a word of concern how poor workers would feed themselves, have access to proper utilities, pay remittances to the people at home, or their workers now allegedly made illegal by their lack of action.

What sort of a boss allows his workers to allegedly be treated in what most would regard as an appalling manner, apparently not even meeting with them, advising of  “current difficulties,” working to find temporary solutions, or even alternative employment. 

Allegedly, leaving these people to “wither on the vine?”

Apparently, little in the way of “humanitarianism,” or allegedly, accepting management’s responsibility!

Sadly, we read of it too often. 

It is time that the authorities stamped out these type of occurrences. 

If the allegations are proven, black-list contraveners from future employment contracting, even if only to warn others that the government is serious about invoking the highest standards, and enforcing them.

The “10 to a room” accommodation, rightly gives authorities immediate cause to shut them down.

Bahrain has a well deserved reputation to be a welcoming, tolerant, largely democratic society, and this week, thousands of visitors are here, to enjoy the F1 and see something of the country.

Imagine visitors picking up the GDN and reading stories such as this one, and allegations about the treatment of workers.

Damning stuff indeed.

Thank goodness for embassies, and the GDN, for illuminating this case, giving workers hope their strike, which has brought a long overdue response, is not in vain.

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