Chamber cell for expat labourers By SOMAN BABY Published: 24th February 2008

A GRIEVANCES committee is to be set up for foreign labourers in Bahrain's construction industry, following a spate of strikes.

It is to be set up at the Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) and will operate under the chamber's contractors committee.

A suggestion to set up the committee was made by leading Bahraini businessmen following a meeting with Indian Ambassador Balkrishna Shetty.

The meeting was held in the wake of the strikes by expatriate workers, the majority of them Indians.

The committee will act as a first point of contact for construction workers to air their grievances, said Labour Market Regulatory Authority vice-chairman Farouk Almoayyed.

"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," he told the GDN.

"We have suggested to have a grievances committee which should provide an easy access for workers to approach them."

Mr Almoayyed said it is important for all contractors and businessmen to treat their workers well.

"Workers should never be mistreated. Every effort should be made to maintain peace and harmony at work places."

BCCI contractors committee chairman Samir Nass said the proposed grievances cell would work as his group's special sub committee .

"A meeting of the contractors' committee will be held within two weeks to work out details," he noted.

"We shall do it under BCCI regulations. We shall try to have a dedicated telephone line to listen to the workers' grievances."

Mr Nass 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 added.

Meanwhile, leading Bahraini businessman and Dadabhai Group chairman Mohammed Dadabhai said the recent incidents of strikes and agitations at work places were against the culture and existing relationship between Bahrain and India.

"Workers have always enjoyed and obeyed the labour laws and regulations in Bahrain, which are probably the best in the Gulf," he noted.

"I am against strikes and demonstrations being held by the workers as an expression of their discontent.

"However, I understand that some workers have done so because of a decline of more than 20 per cent in the value of the dollar, which has eaten into their income."

Mr Dadabhai urged all responsible people to join hands in working out a long-term solution to this problem.

"We are happy at the progress made in recent years in further strengthening the government-to-government and people-to-people relationship between Bahrain and India."

Mr Dadabhai said his company had already taken steps to help his workers who have experienced a drop in income due to a drop in the value of dollar.


© Gulf Daily News