Bahrain bosses hit back at jobs decision
Manama, May 8, 2009
Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) has denied approving plans to scrap the sponsorship system for foreign workers.
'Businessmen are still reticent over the decision itself and the mechanisms for its implementation,' it said in a statement on Thursday.
It accused Labour Minister Dr Majeed Al Alawi of falsifying the businessmen's stance regarding the scheme. It expressed its dismay particularly over his assertions that the decision was approved by the BCCI after full consultation.
'Our two representatives in the Labour Market Regulatory Authority (LMRA) reiterated our reticence in view of the detrimental repercussions of the plan on businessmen's interests,' it said.
It described the draft law stipulating the expatriates' right to switch jobs without compromising his initial employer's rights as 'ambiguous'.
BCCI urged expatriates' rights to be protected in line with Bahrain's international commitments. However, it cautioned against pursuing this drive at the expense of employers' vital interests.
It cited its statement on April 26 warning against the fallout of scrapping the sponsorship system on the stability of the labour market. It claimed that an unfettered labour market would benefit expatriate workers.
Foreign employees would gain power to dictate their terms to employers and negotiate higher salaries and greater benefits.
Under the new scheme expatriates would become strong competitors to Bahrainis in the labour market.
'The doors would be wide open for expatriates in such an unregulated labour market to dictate their own terms,' BCCI said.
'We have received a number of calls from businessmen expressing their anger at the unilateral decision.'
While deploring the 'falsification' of its stance, the BCCI called on the minister not to sideline it as the representative of the private sector.
'We call for a rational and objective dialogue before selling the plan as approved by all parties,' it said.-TradeArabia News Service