Migrant Workers in Bahrain
Monday, 08 April 2013 10:27

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Migrant Workers in Bahrain

The 2010 census reported that there were about half a million nationals in Bahrain and about 666,000 non-Bahrainis, who make up about 54% of the total population. With the 2011 uprising, many are asking about the future of migrant works in Bahrain, migrant workers rights and relationship between non-native populations and Bahrainis.

Mona Almoayyed, Managing Director of Y.K. Almoayyed & Sons, tries to answer these questions.

"No there’s been inflow of more non-Bahrainis in the labor markets since that time. Again, I’m a strong believer in asking for the rights of migrant workers. We really believe we owe these people so much for building our country. All this construction in Bahrain is because of migrants. They do the jobs which Bahrainis don’t want to do and we really owe it to them to give them more rights," she says.

For the migrant workers rights Almoayyed agrees that there is a lot to be done: "Some of the wages in this country are as low as  BD40/- to BD50/- dinars for a laborer; because he’s paid so little he cannot afford to live in a decent place. He’s forced to live in accommodations which are below human standards. I don’t know if you read about the recent big fire in Bahrain in which 13 laborers died in their home. This was because this building was not meant for laborers; it was just a house and there were about 10 people in each room. The fire started and they couldn’t save them so they died. This is very sad and I feel if we have a minimum wage, at least these people will have a decent living. They should have decent accommodations and not be living in sub-standard houses like that."

"Of course another big problem is with accidents at work because they are mostly illiterate and are not aware of the dangers they may face. So they go on scaffolding without protection, without helmets, and without shoes. They are supposed to wear these but they don’t and the company wants to save money so they don’t buy the workers shoes and helmets. So you hear every day a few people die in accidents at work. Also what’s really worrying is the number of suicides among migrant workers in Bahrain. In 2012, there were 53 people who committed suicide and this year there have been about 13 people. There are many accidents and many suicides; it’s very sad," concludes Almoayyed.

Lastly, the relationship between nationals and non-nationals in Bahrain manifests itself in many ways, but Almoayyed does not see rising tensions between the two groups. She argues: "No I don’t see that at all. I think the opposition likes to promote this idea. They don’t like the migrant workers so they go and attack them in villages and such, but I don’t see that at all. In Bahrain, people in general are very kind and helpful and if you ask any of the migrant workers who work in Bahrain compared to other countries, they are really well looked after by their employers."

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