Only in Bahrain: Irregular Foreign Workers Hired and Citizens Dismissed

2020-06-12 - 7:08 p

Bahrain Mirror (Exclusive): Two simultaneous events revealed a side of the chaos in Bahrain's labor market: the dismissal of Bahraini workers and hiring of irregular foreign workers.

While there are increasing reports about layoffs of Bahraini workers in the private sector, the Labor Market Regulatory Authority has launched an online platform to help companies hire irregular workers.

Ammar Al-Abbas, a Member of Parliament, said he was "surprised by the large numbers that contact him on a daily basis from various private companies, which reveals the continuation of mass dismissals."

Mahmoud Al-Bahrani, a member of the Finance and Economic Committee, called on the Ministry of Labor and Social Development to "act quickly to contain the layoffs of Bahrainis, which several companies have started."

The Parliament does not have regulatory and legislative powers to stop such measures against Bahraini workers.

Minister of Labor Jameel Hamidan did not hide his understanding of the measures taken by some companies and said during his meeting with a Member of Parliament "the labor market by its nature is subjected to the system of supply and demand (...) If some establishments lay off some of their employees, the ministry will employ them in other institutions and companies."

Bahrain already has a high unemployment rate estimated by international agencies at about 15%. Among the unemployed are thousands of higher education graduates.

Minister Hamidan's remarks show the government's new policy in prioritizing the interests of capitalists at the expense of Bahraini workers.

Officials believe that bringing in and naturalizing cheap labor in the country will enhance the competitiveness of Bahrain's economy.

The Labor Market Regulatory Authority, a government body responsible for regulating the labor force, has launched a platform to help traders get the irregular labor they need.

The Authority grants tens of thousands of such workers permanent residence in the country in exchange for fees. A large number of them have lost their financial resources, with the disruption of business as a preventive measure to stop the spread of the Coronavirus pandemic.

The platform "will contribute to reducing the presence of irregular employment in the Kingdom," said Osama Al-Absi, the authority's president.

He added in a press statement that the platform "aims at facilitating the private sector's access to the workers it needs in light of the difficulty of hiring workers from abroad and the impact of air traffic, in support of the continued growth of the private sector."

A Bangladeshi newspaper had revealed last month that the Authority was on its way to grant 40,000 Bangladeshi workers the right to reside in Bahrain legally.

Al-Absi did not comment on the statements made by a Bangladeshi Embassy official in Manama.

MPs are demanding the dismissal of Al-Absi from his post, as they accuse him of working against the interests of Bahrainis.

This issue does not seem to be related to whether Al-Absi remains in his post or not, as the Civil Service Bureau, which is responsible for employment in the government sector, also recruits hundreds of foreigners annually to work for the government despite the large number of unemployed Bahrainis.

Arabic Version