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Chan'ad Bahraini

(Scomberomorous maculatus Bahrainius)

Note: This page has moved to a new address. Please click on the following URL to get there: http://chanad.weblogs.us/index.php?s=Updates: Sitra rally and Factory rampage. Sorry for the trouble.

Updates: Sitra rally and Factory rampage

Monday, March 28, 2005

Some updates to stories I've posted about recently:

Today's GDN reports that the Cabinet condemned the illegal Consitutional Reform Rally that was held in Sitra on Friday. And once again the GDN decides to not include any statements from Al Wefaq. According to a post on BahrainOnline last night, the Cabinet has asked the Interior Ministry to take action against Al Wefaq, which may involve a closure of the group for 45 days. (I'm not sure what the government hopes to achieve by shutting down or suspending a group's license. Recall that the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights was shut down, yet last month representatives travelled all the way to Geneva to deliver a shadow report to the UN condemning the goverment!) Meanwhile, the Committee for the Unemployed will be holding the second in its series of demonstrations in the Seef district this Saturday (April 2) at 3.30pm, coinciding with Formula 1 weekend. It will be interesting to see how government responds to this. (The police did not interfere with the first protest, held last month).

And more details of the factory rampage on Saturday are emerging. The Gulf News reports:

The workers — mainly from India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh — claimed two other workers had committed suicide in the past, another died of a heart attack and five others became insane as a result of harsh working conditions that require them to work for more than 12 hours daily. They blamed the manager of the factory for their ordeal.

The workers also alleged physical abuse by floor managers and said they were not getting proper food and medical care.

Harinder Lamba, general manager of the company, dismissed the claims of mistreatment and low-wages [Hah!] as untrue. (Continued)

The GDN provides further details, reporting that the workers have submitted petitions to the Indian and Bangladeshi embassies:

Over 400 workers are calling for an investigation into the suicide of an Indian tailor, which prompted a riot at the garment factory where he worked.

They submitted a petition to the Indian and Bangladesh Embassies, as well as the police, yesterday demanding action against the management of MRS Fashions, in East Riffa.

The workers claim Madhu Babu, 25, was driven into taking his own life because of the ill-treatment that was dished out to him.

A tailor who spoke on behalf of his colleagues said it is the third such incident at the company in two years.

He claimed that Mr Babu was the second employee to commit suicide, while a third man allegedly suffered a heart attack because he was overworked. "We want the company to treat us as human beings," said the spokesman, who asked to remain anonymous.

"We all witnessed what happened to Mr Babu and we no longer feel safe working there." (Continued)

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8 Responses to 'Updates: Sitra rally and Factory rampage'

Anonymous Anonymous says:

Could not the argument be made that while wages are low they are significantly higher than what these same people would make in their home nations? In fact could one not argue with a high degree of merit that many if not most would not be working in their respective country's?

This does not excuse the need for safe working conditions and set rules and laws concerning wages, hours and health care issues. Rules and laws that are ENFORCED. Isn't that the crux of the problem?    

Blogger Chanad says:

Yes, the crux of the problem is safe working conditions, and laws that are implemented.

There is any issue with regards to low wages though. There are many workers who are promised a certain wage when they accept the jobs in their home countries, and upon arriving here discover that they will be paid much less. But they can't just get up and leave because they've already sold their land and property to move here.    

Anonymous Anonymous says:

Do you know if Bahrain has seen any riots of this kind before - of Asian immigrants protesting over poor labour standards, ill treatment and poor workers' rights?    

Blogger Julaybib says:
3/30/2005 04:45:00 pm


When people are paid low wages and treated like vermin, just remember, it is usually the middle classes who benefit.

In the UK, fair trade is becoming more and more popular, with people buying everything from clothes to coffee through organisations who are registered with fair trade organisations. That way, people can own things knowing people get paid a living wage and work in humane conditions.




Blogger Chanad says:
3/30/2005 05:26:00 pm

I certainly don't recall ever hearing of any such riots, or even of isolated rampages like this one before.    

Blogger Scorpio says:
4/01/2005 04:01:00 pm

How does Bahrain benefit from having a factory like this in the country? The owner's an Indian living in Hong Kong; the workers are all Indian; no one's paying much by the way of tax and none of them are contributing much to the local economy. What's the point?    

Blogger Chanad says:
4/01/2005 10:25:00 pm

Scorpio, I would guess that the company probably has a Bahraini sleeping partner who makes a good profit from the business. Otherwise, as you say, it makes no sense.    

Anonymous Anonymous says:
4/03/2005 04:03:00 am

400 workers, expat or not are helping the economy of Bahrain. Granted, most of their meager wages are being shipped back to their home nations but there is a "fee" to "wire" money. Someone is buying food for 400 people as well. Transportation of the workers also means $$$$$ or in the case BD's being pumped into the system as well. So there is a benefit, though it could be a much larger one if the workers where native or more permanent residents who meager incomes would be expunged into the local economy in a more "direct" manner. I suspect many also do other work as well. Wash cars, house cleaning, gardening, cooking etc.    

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