Bahrain recruiters 'helpless' as strike would 'ruin business'
Manama, June 30, 2014
Manpower agencies are reconsidering a proposed strike against stricter rules to regulate the recruitment field in Bahrain.
Bahrain Recruiters Society (BRS), which represents the majority of licensed recruitment agencies in the country, earlier called for a strike during Ramadan, but yesterday (June 29) said they were "helpless" because a walkout would ruin their businesses, reported the Gulf Daily News (GDN), our sister publication.
The new rules issued by the Labour Market Regulatory Authority (LMRA), effective since June 1, require agencies to have at least BD10,000 ($26,033) deposited in a bank account to have their licence renewed.
"The strike is not a right option as it will not be helpful to us as businesses," BRS vice-chairman Habeeb Marhoon told the GDN.
"In the given difficult financial situation, it is not possible to close down our businesses, which would mean that we will be closing doors on our means of livelihood.
"We wish to resolve the problem and urge authorities to look into options possible to ease our business concerns - the amount could be perhaps made half.
"Also, we urge the LMRA to tell us what our benefit from this deposit money is, which is going to remain frozen with them."
Marhoon said their concerns over the future of the money were not "properly answered" by LMRA officials during an earlier meeting.
"We are told this is a law by decree and we accept it; we are ready to pay the money as well," he said.
"But shouldn't we be told as to how do we get supported or benefited in this business?
However, LMRA chief executive Ausamah Al Absi said the rule was put in place following consultations with parliament and a public survey conducted by the LMRA in which the majority of 4,000 people queried said agencies had to give some kind of guarantee to live up to their agreements with employers and workers.
"Basically these agents have been not living up to the agreements that they have with the workers and employers," he told the GDN yesterday.
"And many people in the survey said a deposit should be in place. Moreover, parliament also recommended that we take a guarantee amount.
"Thus this amount is a parliamentary and popular demand and additionally an administrative tool which will work in accordance with the authority that the law has entrusted the LMRA with.
"It is not for the benefit of agencies, but for the benefit of the maids and employers.
"Agencies have operated for decades without supervision and accountability.
"The victims of this unsupervised process are both employers and the employees and we are adamant towards making all accountable for their action."
Al Absi added that the money will be returned to the agencies if they close shop.
Meanwhile, BRS chairman Fareed Al Mahmeed said their nine-member board will meet tomorrow to discuss the issue.
"We have to call for a general meeting of around 70 members before we take a decision on the matter," he told the GDN.
"As of now it is a law and we have to pay the deposit, otherwise it would mean closing down our businesses.
"Whoever can pay will pay, others have no choice but to close down their business."
The GDN earlier reported that Al Absi described the call for strike as "despicable", saying that the BD10,000 was a small price to pay when the agencies dealt with "the lives of underprivileged domestic workers and charge Bahraini households in excess of BD1,000". - TradeArabia News Service