Bahrain launches campaign against illegal employment practices

The sun rises behind workers constructing a building in the Bahraini capital of Manama. (Reuters)

The sun rises behind workers constructing a building in the Bahraini capital of Manama. (Reuters)

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MANAMA – Bahrain launched a broad campaign against illegal employment practices after nearly 21,000 companies were found to have committed violations and infractions of the country’s labour laws.

Officials in the Ministry of Labour said that they also are investigating around 5,000 suspected ghost companies that were established to collect money extorted in exchange for visas. In addition, a large number of Bahraini women who allegedly work in building and construction and are suspected of being ghost workers are under investigation.

A total of 189 companies have been taken to court for committing numerous infractions and violations and the Labour Market Regulatory Authority (LMRA) has cancelled 1,169 work permits.

Ali Radhi, executive director of the LMRA, said that the decision to increase the number of foreign workers that construction companies are allowed to employ will help reduce the number of illegal workers in the country.

Radhi explained that inspections and examinations looking for illegal workers at building and construction sites will increase, adding that the previous campaign which began in late 2008 found 20,815 companies engaged in infractions and violations of the laws and rules of the LMRA. Of these, more than 2,800 were building and construction companies, which combined, employed almost 7,300 illegal workers.

Radhi said that there are 10,141 companies working in various building and construction activities and together they employ close to 159,000 workers. He added that more than 50 percent of runaway cases reported to the LMRA were in the building and construction sector.

Head of Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s Committee of Contractors Samir Nass welcomed the initiative taken by the LMRA. He explained that, after having been previously kept in the dark, statistics provided by the LMRA will help the commission properly plan and regulate construction activities.

[Gulf Daily News newspaper, Arabian News website]