I’ve written previously about the exploitation of foreign workers in the Persian Gulf countries. The most recent post on this topic was about “guest workers” in Kuwait, who have been unable to appeal to the embassies of their home countries to redress their grievances.
But that situation is about to change, at least for Indian nationals, in Bahrain. According to AKI:
Bahrain: Indian embassy invites expat workers to air complaints
The Indian embassy in Bahrain will on Friday hold an open house to allow the embassy officials to monitor the complaints and issues of Indian nationals applying for the government’s current six-month amnesty for expatriate workers.
The open house will be hosted by the Indian ambassador Balkrishna Shetty, and several other embassy officials will be present at the event.
In a bid to curb the violation of labour norms, Bahrain announced a special amnesty scheme for all foreign workers on 1 August. Under the amnesty, the government has asked all illegal immigrant workers and their employers to regularise their work permits or face heavy penalties.
– – – – – – – – –
Shetty and other Indian ambassadors, mainly from Middle Eastern countries, will gather in the Indian capital, New Delhi, on 10-11 September to discuss the problems faced by women workers in these country, particularly housemaids.
The Indian government’s earlier decision to impose tighter regulations that would govern household workers starting from 1 September will now come into force only after this meeting, Shetty was quoted as telling the Bahrain daily Gulf Daily News.
The meeting has been called amid the growing concern in India about the rising complaints of housemaids working abroad being abused by their employers and their contracts violated.
Hundreds of thousands of women, mainly from Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra states in India, are employed as domestic help in these countries.
One of the options the government wants to float for discussion at next month’s meeting is a minimum monthly salary for housemaids, and a ban on women workers travelling to countries, which have no labour pacts, Shetty said.
Indian ambassadors accredited to 10 countries where large numbers of Indian domestic servants are employed will attend the meeting. Besides Bahrain, these include Qatar, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Oman, Libya, Yemen, Jordan and Malaysia.
Bahrain has become the second country after the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to announce an amnesty scheme for foreign workers.
As of last Sunday, 2,733 Indian nationals had applied to the Indian embassy in Bahrain for help in filing amnesty applications, Shetty said.
“About 70 percent of them had no passports, and they are being issued emergency certificates or outpasses,” he said, quoted by Gulf Daily News.
The enforcement of laws and official policies in the Arab world is subject to the whims of the despots that run the countries. It remains to be seen whether these new reforms will have any real-world effects, or exist only on paper.
Hat tip: insubria.