Chicken for lunch?

I’m not sure what those “guest workers” are complaining about. Really. They just hear a rumour by the Indian Ambassador that his country is planning a minimum wage for their citizens working in the Gulf for BD100 ($265) a month, and they automatically think that they should be included in that new criteria. Not only that, they mistakenly assume that as they are working on multi-billion Dollar projects, they think that their contractors – their benefactors – whom they wrongfully accuse of enslaving them and who make no qualms of reiterating that status in their provision of comfy accommodation complete with amenities, could actually afford to raise their wages! I think they just conveniently forget that they have already agreed to their BD57 dinars ($150) a month they legally – and I stress – legally signed in India or wherever they were recruited from. And come on, they don’t know much business, do they? Budgets have long been set and any variation would actually kill the poor downtrodden contractors!

Blah. Those people are never satisfied. I mean, just look at how well they are treated! They are even given wholesome and well prepared chicken for lunch!

Pissing on the chicken tenderises them for cooking… yum!

Don’t these people realise that some Arabs in our beloved Arab World still cannot afford the luxury of meat for their daily diet? I’ve heard that some even run after the zoo animals’ feed carts crying “feed us meat, feed us meat, we want meat” and fight even lions for the privilege. Roman gladiators would be impressed, I tell you.

Regardless, I join Mr. Sameer Nass, the chairman of the Construction Committee at the Chamber of Commerce who rightly says: “This will not do“. I agree with him, all of those rabble rousers should be sent home, carted off in a ship and dumped at the closest port of call in their countries of origin. That will teach them. Way above their station, they are. They should know that we could easily import labour from other and more deserving places in the world whom we will undoubtedly shower with our largess. Isn’t some Gulf countries already negotiating with Vietnam and parts of Africa for labour? Africa should be easy really, we’ve had hundreds of years of experience in that continent, but Vietnam I’m not too sure of. Other than them soundly defeating the Americans, I don’t know much about them, but that should make them a bit more of a “security risk,” I should think, but seeing as how our intelligence community actually assisted the Thais where our boys “provide accurate information on the continuing insurgency in the three Thai southern provinces of Yala, Pattani and Narathiwat“, we do do our homework and that security risk shouldn’t be an issue, considering how far our intelligence tentacles reach!

Contingency planning, which shows our complete preparedness for any eventuality, does not stop at finding alternate sources for manual labourers, of course, witness the 3,000 Thai nurses being trained in Bangkok and who will be deployed here soon. I’m not sure what they will be trained in; however, but whatever it is, I hope they also provided tested prophylactics as some of those Thais have been found blasé about their use; hence, suffer the indignity of being sent home with our material thanks in them. We should welcome them regardless of course, especially as it seems that our ungrateful local nurses seem to want to tread the same route as those unwelcome guest workers.

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75 Comments
  • rocknroll
    11 February 2008

    i cannot agree more with you ole chap. what cheek. fancy having chicken. living above their station. what next , transportation in ac buses. i tell you some people are never happy.

    hmmmm Thai’s u say…. hmmmmm

  • Ray
    11 February 2008

    Well hire Bahrainis for BD 250 each !

  • T.J. Neruda
    11 February 2008

    I was reading the Reuters report on this. It said “The workers have been confined to their living quarters by police while labour ministry officials try to persuade them to call off the strike, Umran added.”

    Which sounds benevolent, until you realize that means they’ve all been locked in the communal housing they’ve lived in, and been told they aren’t getting out till they stop protesting.

  • Bonny Mascarenhas
    11 February 2008

    just to correct T.J. Neruda… – The workers barricaded themselves in..- It was the management that is locked out.

    The workers are not locked in. I should know cos i reported the strike in the Bahrain Tribune…

    They are doing a sort of ‘Gandhigiri’ in Bahrain.

  • rocknroll
    11 February 2008

    by jove what next… naxals in Bahrain…. oops sorry

  • T.J. Neruda
    11 February 2008

    Thanks for clearing that up Bonny, I was just going off the AFP article here (http://afp.google.com/article/ALeqM5hJkDFiWYxaxxZ1SIqQcb5ItQVRvg)which stated

    “The workers have been confined to their living quarters by police while labour ministry officials try to persuade them to call off the strike”

    Would you please provide me the link to your report on the strike, I need to update my posting on it. Thanks.

  • Bugs
    11 February 2008

    Well, if India is going to demand higher wages for its people whom it wants to improve its living conditions, some Bahrainis will have to look for other people to enslave. I read a few days ago in the regime aligned Akhbar al-Khaleej that labour contractors are bringing maids from Ghana because the other supplying countries (India, Philippines, Bangladesh, and Indonesia) have demanded more in pay and that low income Bahrainis cannot afford to pay high wages. That is of course true, but if they cannot afford to pay decent wages for people who are cleaning their homes and taking care of their ungrateful children then should they have maids in the first place? And when it comes to giving them their rights like citizenship etc after enduring the injustice which they have suffered for many years, which their masters have not endured throughout their life, the so called Bahraini intellectuals come out with their racist chauvinistic arguments that if they allow it to happen the foreigners will then rule the natives, but haven’t they endured a lot under the natives and don’t they deserve to rule the country?

  • T.J. Neruda
    11 February 2008

    Sorry if this reposts, but my post didn’t get put up, it didn’t tell me it was being moderated as it normally does, and when I tried to copy the old post in it said it was a duplicate.

    Thanks for the correction Bonny, I was basing what I’d said on an AFP article (http://afp.google.com/article/ALeqM5hJkDFiWYxaxxZ1SIqQcb5ItQVRvg) which said

    “The workers have been confined to their living quarters by police while labour ministry officials try to persuade them to call off the strike”

    But I’m reading your article now. I need to update my post on this.

  • Soso
    11 February 2008

    GDN reported that they were locked in by their employer…

    I am glad to hear that these guys are fighting for better salaries and are not afraid of being sent home. That right there tells you that even unskilled laborors no longer feel that the country is a good means to earn a living. The flow of labor coming from these countries will begin to steeply decline but I’m sure these greedy sponsors will just find more slaves.

    This so-called democratic country still won’t even address the idea of setting a minimum wage for foreigners! It’s time for the government to do something about this instead of leaving it in the hands of individual emabassies. The abuse and blatant discrimination also needs to be addressed.

  • T.J. Neruda
    11 February 2008

    Bugs, I agree with you. Many of these workers have been in the country longer then natives like me have lived there. As far as I am concerned, they are part of the internal fabric of our society, and in that respect, just as entitled to call themselves Bahraini as I am. In that respect, we need to start ensuring that the migrants that qualify for citizenship are given it, and that they are entitled to representation in government. The upper house of parliament, needs to begin moving from a fully appointed system, to one which has its seats split in such a way as to more accuratly represent the populations demographic then the lower house does. Meaning, an equal percentage of women as to their demographic, Jews, Indians, Philipinos and otherwise.

    As to your other argument about them seeking lower wage labor to fit their own relatively low payscale… Someone correct me if I’m wrong, but is that not explicitly illegal under minimum wage laws? Do we have things like minimum housing laws for migrant workers as well?

  • Bugs
    11 February 2008

    Well, if India is going to demand higher wages for its people whom it wants to improve its living conditions, some Bahrainis will have to look for other people to enslave. I read a few days ago in the regime aligned Akhbar al-Khaleej that labour contractors are bringing maids from Ghana because the other supplying countries (India, Philippines, Bangladesh, and Indonesia) have demanded more in pay and that low income Bahrainis cannot afford to pay such high wages for their domestic workers. That is of course true, but if they cannot afford to pay decent wages for people who are cleaning their homes and taking care of their ungrateful children then should they have maids in the first place? And when it comes to giving them their rights for example citizenship, after enduring the injustice which they have suffered for many years, which their masters have not endured throughout their life, the so called Bahraini intellectuals come out with their racist chauvinistic arguments that if they allow it to happen the foreigners will then rule the natives, but haven’t they endured a lot under the natives and don’t they deserve to rule the country?

  • T.J. Neruda
    11 February 2008

    Mahmood I think your comments may be broken, some of my comments are going through while others aren’t, and then the system tells me they are duplicates. Is it automatically moderating posts with links in them (if it is, its stopped giving me the standard “this comment is off for moderation” disclaimer that it used to), or is it a problem? Bonny I replied to you earlier, so you should see that in a bit.

  • chanad
    11 February 2008

    careful mahmood. not everyone will get the sarcasm, and i imagine some of your readers will be nodding fervently to everything you’ve written!

  • Bugs
    11 February 2008

    T.J. Neruda, there are many things that are illegal, which the chauvinistic natives will look for ways to go around. Because if you start doing what should be done the royal family will lose support. For example, the Bahraini constitution states clearly that we have freedom of belief and that Sharia law is a source of legislation, which means that Bahrain is literally a secular country. However, if that statute was implemented then the fanatics will be angered and that becomes a challenge to the royal family and the business elite. There are many laws that are not applied in practice and in my belief that is due to political reasons. For a dictatorship to stay in power it has to buy itself supporters and that means even if it has to implement irrational policies.

  • T.J. Neruda
    11 February 2008

    We’ve just changed the argument Bugs, I won’t comment on your last post.

  • Bugs
    11 February 2008

    Chanad

    I do get the sarcasm. Mahmood is arguing like the greedy business men, but in a mocking way.

  • Bugs
    11 February 2008

    Sorry but one thing leads to another. But what I was trying to say that we can dream of wage improvements. Even if it’s illegal to higher people for less pay, but who is going to care. Nobody has ever bothered to do that in the past. Why should they care now?

  • T.J. Neruda
    11 February 2008

    The important part is the law is in place. Step two, is you empower the judiciary and allow it to gain more independence. Step three, the judiciary starts to look at the constitutionality of laws, and then through lawsuits or otherwise, starts to rule on individual cases and sanctify rules. Step 4 – Profit!

    Of course, this is a highly ideal situation… but as I said, now that the laws are in the books, you use the legislation of the system against the system. So the Elites and Business people you argue against, will be roped in by effective arguments using pre-existing legislation. It’s a long process, but events like this help it move forward.

  • Bugs
    11 February 2008

    T.J. Neruda, good thing that India has implemented a law that will improve the situation for its people. And that in the coming years Indians will probably stay at home than go abroad. Your vision sounds awesome, but we have to keep in mind that the there are laws already in place that guarantee equality and fairness for workers In Bahrain. You just have to read the constitution. However, if they are implemented many businesses will suffer as a result and it will raise the cost of living. Therefore, it is easy to just easy to turn a blind eye to the situation that just occurred and treat it like any other incident. I have very much doubt about Indian politics. Don’t forget that Bahrain and the rest of GCC are sovereign countries, which means that these laws are not valid. In the early 1980s, Nino Aquino, who was the president the Philippines at the time, wanted to ban female migrants from working in Saudi Arabia, but the response from the Saudis was that it was going to ban all male workers from the Philippines in return. And since the Filipinos needed the money so desperately they had to ignore their rights.

  • anon
    11 February 2008

    الشرهة على وزارة العمل اللي ما تدري عن هوا دارها Ùˆ ما ينلام السفير الهندي اذا طلب زيادة الاجور حق الموظفين الهنود بالنهاية هم اللي عمروا Ùˆ هم اللي بنوا Ùˆ احنا قاعدين Ùˆ حاطين ريل على ريل في مكاتبنا او بيوتنا المكيفة …. بس شغلة ان فالنهاية نعطيهم الجنسية او نخليهم يتمتعون بحقوق المواطنة بما فيها الحقوق السياسية غير مقبولة بصراحة …. هم بالنهاية ياين يترزقون الله Ùˆ بيردون بلادهم Ùˆ لنا في المانيا عبرة لي يومنا وايد من العمال الضيوف ما اكتسبو حقوق المواطنة او حتى الجنسية الالمانية …. كل اللي ابي اقوله ان لا نخلط حقوق العمال بمساءل ثانية مثل الجنسية 🙂

  • Lee Ann
    11 February 2008

    sniff sniff…I can almost smell the taint of revolution in the air…slaves dont stay slaves forever…eventually they “bite” the hand that feeds them.

    btw I work for Nass…I posted this article on the bulletin board 3 times…3 times it was taken down…our office works on the Durrat project…better let the employees(the expats that enjoy meat along with villas and jeeps) to remain in the dark as to who they share employment with…eh?

    I thought todays GDN was terrific…full of protests and the little people taking a stand…has the time come for that long awaited “change’ that everyone keeps talking about but nobody wants to implement(by anything less than force)?

  • Bonny Mascarenhas
    11 February 2008

    sorry TJ din’t get ur stuff….

    oh and a update the general Federation of Bahrain Trade unions visited the site and gave their comments on it.. they contradict a report from the Occupational health and saftey officials who said the camp meets all their (ministry’s) requirements.. read the report tomorrow. 😉

  • T.J. Neruda
    12 February 2008

    Very good, thank you Bonny. I was just trying to thank you earlier, as the AFP article was misleading in that it said police had locked the workers in their quarters. I will continue to publish any updates you have on the story on my site. These are important and defining moments for the region in its entirety, and hopefully a milestone for defining the basic rights of immigrant laborers.

    Please either mail me or post on this forum when the new article is up. Thanks again Bonny!

  • Mike
    12 February 2008

    Yuppers, the US “lost” in Vietnam.
    US dead = 58,000
    NVA dead = 800,000 – 1,000,000

    Cambodians killed by the “victors” = 2,400,000

    Hope this world can stand more of these “victories”
    Anyone care for a dose of Darfur or…………?

  • Lee Ann
    12 February 2008

    Is “victory” based on the body count alone? 😯

  • Ray
    12 February 2008

    On humanitarian grounds employers have to take into consideration the cost of living in Bahrain has skyrocketed and paying a measily BD57/- is slave labour considering the rising inflation making things worse.

    As one activist correctly put it “I do not think it is going to break the bank if they pay their workers a few dinars more.”

  • Jim Evans
    12 February 2008

    All credit to those who have made a stand over this issue. Western epatriates must also bear responsibilty – excessively high salaries and life style expectations have produced the demand for the trappings of a new Dubai that we see sprouting up on the backs of cheap manual labour.

  • Ali
    12 February 2008

    Jim,

    Most Western Expats earn less here than they do at home whereas most Indian constrcution workers earn more. So the Europeans are not to blame.
    The main complaint from the workers is that they have to pay their own countrymen nearly a years salary in advance to even be considered for employment here with a legal employer. This gives Employers a huge advantage when it comes to dictating the wages and benefits to the workers.

    The Indian Ambassador would be better off stamping out the slave trade in India at source rather than trying for short term gains here. Maybe he wants to go into politics and wants to make a name for himself. He couldn’t do that if he took on the salve bosses in Mumbai could he!!

  • Jim Evans
    12 February 2008

    Ali

    Totally agree with you about responsibility of India & other countries to stamp out the extortion carried out by its own nationals in order to facilitate labour trafficking.

  • Ray
    12 February 2008

    Ali I don’t think the issue is Western expats getting more or even the expats fleecing expats to get here,

    the issue on hand is “paying a measily BD57/- amounts to slave labour in the present volatile conditions” and to top it all’ the icy showers & no proper facilities.

  • bonny mascarenhas
    12 February 2008

    The Chinese men were released by the workers unharmed. They are currently housed at a different location.

    12 feb 08 1530pm (Bahrain).. update – Management (who the workers said have not bothered to contact them since the start of the strike) are currently negotiating with the workers.

  • bonny mascarenhas
    12 February 2008

    …update on the strike stalemate…

    “Living conditions at the G.P. Zachariades labour camp near Durrat Al Bahrain are bad,” a member of the General Federation of Bahrain Trade Union said yesterday after a visit to the camp.
    His remarks came on the third consecutive day of a flash strike by company’s workers who were demanding a wage hike to keep pace with inflation.

    Mohammed Ali Makki told the Tribune that he saw first hand 4 water cooling machines which were rusted. “The water is not filtered and is probably not safe for drinking,” he said, “They don’t have water heaters and have to bathe in cold water. Imagine having a bath in cold water in this weather.”

    The camp’s residents had informed Makki that the electricity in the camp is shut off from 7am-4pm, “There was no electricity when I went there earlier. The workers told me that a generator supplies electricity to the camp.”

    A worker told the Tribune that on Friday electricity was shut from 7am-10am.

    “The bathroom and toilet facilities are also inadequate. There are 60 bathrooms and 60 toilets for the 1,600 men residing in the camp,” Makki said, ‘Workers told me that they have to start standing in line from 3am to bathe and do other ablutions in order to report to work by 6am.”

    The Tribune on the first day of the strike had been told by workers that when it rained that toilets overflowed. They had also shown a cesspool behind the bathrooms which was full of waste water. The tanks containing drinking water were a few meters from the cesspool.
    A waste disposal truck was removing the waste water from the cesspool when the tribune visited the site on the second day of the strike.

    Medical facilities provided for the workers were also insufficient the GFBTU member said. “I was told that there is one nurse and on doctor who come on Friday’s for two hours to check the men.”

    He also cited the lack of an ambulance to take injured workers from the camp site to a hospital. Durrat Al Bahrain is about a distance of 40kms away from Manama nearly over a 40minute drive.

    When informed that the officials from the Ministry of Labour had said that camps condition met safety requirements, Makki said, “That is their view, I cannot comment on that. But I have photographs to back my statements.”

    Makki also said the workers had told him that they pay 700fils for a meal. “According to the law the company should provide free meals because the workers are staying in a remote place,” he said.

    Many workers had also complained of stomach pains and diarrhea to Makki, “This could probably be because the kitchen staff does not maintain hygiene while cooking.”

    The GFBTU had a meeting late yesterday and had discussed the condition of the striking workers, GFBTU Vice chairman, Salman Mahfood told the Tribune. “We are preparing a report of the camp and will meet Ministry of Labour officials. We hope to be able to end the stalemate by arranging a meeting between the workers and the management”

  • T.J. Neruda
    12 February 2008

    Thanks Bonny. Please keep the updates coming, and provide links to your articles when they get posted!

  • Soso
    12 February 2008

    Good thing Mr. Makki took some pictures of their living conditions to prove that the MOL’s visit report was a joke. Let’s see what comes of his report and what the MOL’s justification is for giving this dismal labor camp a clean bill of health.

  • mahmood
    12 February 2008

    Thanks for the updates Bonny, much appreciated. Please keep us informed.

    This is a despicable situation that should be fought and corrected at the roots.

  • Nine
    12 February 2008

    One way that the governmnet could do to help those guest workers is to introduce minimum wage rules that should apply to all; local and guest workers alike. There should not be any difference.

    No doubt some businessmen would complain that they would not be able to afford to pay the minimum wage.

    Well, if they can not pay the minimum wage then they should not be in business. That is what many western governments said when they first introduced the minimum wage. The result of such legislation, believe it or not, was increased and better employment!

    The reason is simple; those who could not compete cleared the deck for those who could who in turn became even more productive and employed more labour.

  • ثوري سنابسي
    13 February 2008

    فليس للبروليتاريين ما يفقدونه فيها سوى أغلالهم وأمامهم عالما يكسبونه. أيّها البروليتاريون، في جميع البلدان، إتحدوا

    أيّها البروليتاريون، في جميع البلدان، إتحدوا
    أيّها البروليتاريون، في جميع البلدان، إتحدوا
    أيّها البروليتاريون، في جميع البلدان، إتحدوا

    brother’s from india, let’s unite

  • Leonard Jones
    13 February 2008

    I am an air compressor mechanic, Millwright, and industrial maintenance mechanic with 30
    years experience.

    As Hillary Clinton may be my next president, I may be looking for opportunities in Bahrain.

    100 Dinars a month sounds pretty good when I consider that the liberal tree-huggers are
    hell bent on destroying my job!

    If Bahrain will not have me, maybe I can seek employment in Mexico.

  • Sos
    13 February 2008

    Nine-you are spot on with your comments! One minimum wage for all. No more pay scales depending on your nationality. It will level the playing field and eventually you would see a shift in hiring expats to hiring Bahraini’s.

  • Sadek
    13 February 2008

    Aren’t we all getting really getting carried away a little.
    While I find the way we treat in the Gulf our foreign workers shameful and exploitive, in every single sense of the word, none of the above comments have asked why these people come across in there hundreds of thousands; the plain and cold reality is they are still better paid, and in many cases, live and eat better than what they get in their home country. How many of the above have visited India – believe you me, for many a roof over their heads, a cold shower and a contaminated dish of food is still better than living unwashed in the street and picking food from a rubbish pile.
    Once the subcontinent starts to become a more renumerative place to work in, and which is happening by simply looking at the growth rates, we won’t have anybody to complain about -but charity starts from home.

  • mahmood
    13 February 2008

    Sadek, are you suggesting that we should tailor our standards selectively by applying them differentially based on people’s situations and countries of origins?

  • bonny mascarenhas
    13 February 2008

    update day 5 of the strike

    the mangement has now offered a BD20 wage hike ‘verbally’.. it has been accepted by the workers but are demanding it in writing from the company..

    An initial salary increment of BD15 was refused by the camp’s residents..

    the stalemate continues…

    the General Federation of Bahrain’s Trade Unions has also slammed authorities concerned and the business community for having turned away to the various abuses in the Kingdom.

    you can read the report… (my apologies i have no idea how to link to the report 😳 )

  • Lee Ann
    13 February 2008

    Something I have always found interesting is that these gulf states are supposed to be Islamic countries populated by Muslims and run by Sharia Law…which means(according to Muslims) that Islam is the standard by which all other faiths…followers etc should hope to attain…so when the world looks at the gulf…sees how Muslims treat “others”(not forgetting that many of those others are no doubt Muslim too) then this is the picture the rest of the world sees about Islam…that slavery, racism and bigotry(among other even worse actions) are not only alive and well in the Muslim world…but all a part of the religion.

    When I discuss these very sorts of issues with Bahrainis…how they are destroying the image of Islam by behaving in such shameful ways to nonarab common laborers…the most often response I get is….they are ONLY Hindi’s…Pakistani’s…Philipino…etc…as if a mere nationality is reason enough to treat someone like an animal…sort of makes the whole issue of “fairness and equality” espoused by the Quran moot and devoid of meaning.

    If these same Muslims were to be treated in such a way anywhere in the world they would cry foul and probably say the abusers were just Muslims haters etc…and then sue them and make headlines once again about the poor maligned Muslim ummah….hated by everyone the world over…..we reap what we sow right?

  • mahmood
    13 February 2008

    Thanks again Bonny. The two articles of interest are at:

    http://www.bahraintribune.com/ArticleDetail.asp?ArticleID=190550
    and
    http://www.bahraintribune.com/ArticleDetail.asp?ArticleID=190551

    boring technical detail: for Al-Ayam and Bahrain Tribune who use the same engine, find the article number by hovering over the article’s link and note that number down, then add ?ArticleID= to the base URL of http://www.bahraintribune.com/ArticleDetail.asp and plug in the number at the end. This will produce the required permalink to send by email etc.

    to the Bahrain Tribune and Al-Ayam management, you’re losing a lot of link-backs to your articles by not making your permalinks easily reproduceable, that adds to the bottom line as making it easier will get Google to rank you higher!

  • mahmood
    13 February 2008

    Something I have always found interesting is that these gulf states are supposed to be Islamic countries populated by Muslims and run by Sharia Law

    Lee Ann, this situation never was and never will be correct.

    Islam, like any other religion, is a simple political tool to reach an end. I would not even try to rationalise situations against the benchmarks you set as it is just impossible.

  • bonny mascarenhas
    13 February 2008

    thanx mahmood, for the lessons in making greek (a language i don’t know) easier to me…

    it sounded french to me (another language i don’t know) but i’ll pass it on to our IT guy, he’ll know what you said

  • Sam
    13 February 2008

    Lets take what your average ‘guest’ worker involved in manual labor earns a month and work out what he earns an hour. 50 Dinars into 30 days into 14 hour shifts works out to be 0.119 fils an hour. Quite disgusting.

    We’ve not even factored in the inhumane 3rd world prison like living conditions, lack of health care, no family life, no social life, couple all that with financial hardship and it comes to no surprise why so many are willing to take their own lives. Human exploitation is indeed the true stark fact. Something needs to be done.

    The overwhelming amount of discrimination that has become the norm in this country needs to be tipped on it’s head. I for one an expatriate with the legal right to live and work in this country am charged unfairly due entirely on the fact that I am non-Bahraini. Why should I have to pay an odd 100 Dinars to get myself a phone line, or bank account, or any post-paid service?? Could you imagine being told in any developed country in the west that you would need to pay xxx because your non-British or non-American?

    Political correctness is far too laxed in this country. The media needs to stop branding people by their country or origin and nationality.

  • Sadek
    13 February 2008

    Mahmood
    “Sadek, are you suggesting that we should tailor our standards selectively by applying them differentially based on people’s situations and countries of origins?”

    Isn’t not we and the rest of the world has been doing for thousands of years.
    Yes, if it ultimately benefits the individual(s) in question. The cold reality is that by employing the unemployed and giving them a wage, and a standard above from what they have at present, they are benefitting. Harsh but true.
    On the other hand I would be the first to support a minimum wage both for nationals and expatriates in the GCC, but don’t underestimate the real cost – our lovely new buildings and developments, streets, coffee boys, servants, gardners, etc etc would be far more expensive to build and maintain.
    To take it a step further when you buy a good which is (most probably) manufactured in China, or Bangladesh, or Vietnam, etc do you ask yourself whether the product was manufactured by slave or child labour. Doubt it.
    Do I agree that we should not care – no. But then you have to universally apply your morality.

  • Sam
    13 February 2008

    coffee boys, servants, gardners, etc

    Those are LUXURIES – they are not god given rights!

  • Zafar
    13 February 2008

    i just read the article here “Chicken for lunch? the writer still beleives in slavery! he thinks that anyone who raises his/her voice must be deported. people working their (foreign) do nothave any human rights. i have worked in the gulf and happened to visit many a labour camps of these contractors (the writer of Chicken… is very sympathetic towards these contractors.. i do not for what reason) if the writer thinks that is luxury, i must tell u it’s big lie but nothing else. the writer seems to be a local. please think from human point of view. don’t be self centered.

  • Zafar
    13 February 2008

    the wirter of Chicken for lunch? has proudly posted a snap. if he thinks that luxury then anyone could imagine what must be bahrain’s standard of living? it will be better if you could some good snap where u could really feel proud of what u r?

  • Zafar
    13 February 2008

    the writer of Chicken for lunch? also mention in his article that his beloved Arab World still cannot afford the luxury of meat for their daily diet? I’ve heard that some even run after the zoo animals’ feed carts crying “feed us meat, feed us meat, we want meat” and fight even lions for the privilege.
    what a shame. u people can feed ur animals with meat but not to ur so called beloved arabs.

  • Sadek
    13 February 2008

    Sam
    You are stating the obvious. Come up with an alternative, stretch your argument. Yes they are luxuries, but that’s what people are willing to pay for. More importantly much of our development in the region is based on exploiting (by the way I use this term in a neutral sense) cheap imported labor resources. Are we willing to forgo “our lovely new buildings and developments, streets”? If asked, the majority today will probably tell you no.

  • T.J. Neruda
    13 February 2008

    Zafar. You. Are. Stupid.

  • T.J. Neruda
    13 February 2008

    Oh and, Thanks Bonny for the updates, and Mahmood for the links!

  • Bahraini and screwed
    14 February 2008

    what pisses me off the most is that whenever it comes to expats everyone starts defending and cursing bahrainis and bahrain itself.. well why don’t you look at the other side and see that there are ALOT of bahrainis out there who are unemployed and those who are employed are getting wages of BD 250 a month, and that’s the maximum!!! the difference is the bahraini gets the salary ans that’s it.. the expat gets the salary, accomodation, transport, annual tickets to go bak home, and sometimes even more!! i dont want to start on european and american expats who get paid freakin too much more than they deserve.. and about the asian workers, well they came here happily because just like Sadek said what they’re having here is luxurious to what they had back in India where even walking down the street gives you diseases cause its so filthy.. they signed contracts knowing and agreeing to what they’re getting paid.. most of these workers aren’t even educated, how much do you think they should get paid? i think they’re getting paid well, because the BD 57 here is so much more to them there back home.. the cleaner who used to clean my school showed me pictures of her home back in India, after 7 years of wroking in Bahrain.. I swear her house is much prettier and bigger than ours. A Bahraini can’t afford building a house this quickly, that’s why they always end up taking loans that they’ll pay for the rest of their lives.

    Well to keep it short, those workers knew what they were getting and they signed official contracts that they agree, so I believe they dont have the right to protest and demand more.. and yes I agree that the employers in Bahrain exploit to the maximum but don’t forget that Bahrainis are also exploited just the same.. But if these workers and all the other expats in Bahrain don’t appreciate what they have in here then they can always leave.. go back to your country and let’s see them treat you and give you a life better than the one you have here.. I mean let’s face it, you wouldn’t leave everything behind in your country to come here unless you were offered a better life…
    oh and one more thing, everyday when you read the GDN turn to the letters page and you’ll see how ungrateful these expats are.. cursing Bahrain and Bahrainis as much as they want.. for god’s sake have some conscience.. and I seriously think the GDN should stop publishing those stupid meaningless letters.. and start appreciating what this little island has given you.. everytime I write a letter to the GDN they neglect it and never publish it, although I write it with great manner and respect, but they prefer publishing the ones that curse Bahrainis, probably cause the majority of the people who work in the GDN are also expats!

  • Bonny Mascarenhas
    14 February 2008

    Bahraini and Screwed…. I agree with you…Expats do get salary, accommodation, transport, annual tickets. I think unemployed Bahrainis should start campaigning for jobs in the construction sector. There are thousands of jobs out there, for example- the current strike if the 2000 plus workers are deported…There will be immediately 2000 jobs available. Ask you friends to apply

  • Sos
    14 February 2008

    Bahraini & screwed-ask yourself just one thing, why are the expats here in the first place? Is it because they fill jobs that Bahraini’s will not do? Why would a company hire western expats at 10 times the salary if there was someone already here that is qualified to do the job and willing to accept a lesser salary? There has to be some logic behind why businesses are hiring so many expats…

    Discrimination perhaps? I guess no one is expemt…

  • Sam
    14 February 2008

    everyone starts defending and cursing bahrainis and bahrain itself

    Who do you think writes our labor laws? Who’s in charge and making sure our expat community are being looked after and being made to feel welcome? Who heads these construction companies?

    i dont want to start on european and american expats who get paid freakin too much more than they deserve

    If you compare what they earn here compared to what they would earn for their professions back home you’ll find they are in fact UNDER paid thus companies need to compensate for that by offering to pay for living expenses. These individuals bring a level of professionalism, worldly experience, and skills that cant be found within the local workforce. We all have our reasons for working & living in Bahrain. Some chase the buck, others move to be with family, others move to experience something new.

    they signed contracts knowing and agreeing to what they’re getting paid

    You’d be surprised how little is on paper! These construction companies try their best to get as little as they can on paper for fear of future ramifications!

    I swear her house is much prettier and bigger than ours.

    Ha!!! Your obviously not a home owner and don’t understand value yet.

    go back to your country and let’s see them treat you and give you a life better than the one you have here

    Signature Bahraini!

    when you read the GDN turn to the letters page and you’ll see how ungrateful these expats are.. cursing Bahrain and Bahrainis as much as they want

    It’s called having an opinion!

  • Bonny Mascarenhas
    14 February 2008

    update: day 6 of the strike

    1,200 workers have agreed to go to work. They say nobody cares about them. It is better to work quietly like animals.

    800 workers still on strike. Company has allegedly said that they will be given tickets to return home.

  • Bonny Mascarenhas
    14 February 2008

    Update : Day 6 : No. 2

    Labour Ministry Officials have reportedly told the strikers that they will receive a BD 15/- wage hike. Workers have agreed and work is likely to resume tomorrow.

  • alfie
    14 February 2008

    Dear Bahraini and Screwed

    The asian expatriates were willing to sacrifice their family, loved ones, live in chicken coops, forsake their health,and work in environments that did not respect human life, to save for a better future for their loved ones back home.

    But now with the Bahraini Dinar diving in value and the rupee ascended to all time high, they are saving almost nothing. They are in a situation where they could earn almost the same if not more in India, while being with their family and not working 12-18 hours a day and without taking the shit from Bahrainis who dont appreciate them.

    Also India is one of the largest export patner for Bahrain, with a surplus in trade of more than 260 million in Bahrain’s favour. So remember that India “where even walking down the street gives you diseases cause its so filthy” is subsidising your ass.

  • Sam
    14 February 2008

    Mahmood – was my last post removed because it was off topic?

  • mahmood
    14 February 2008

    Yes, sorry.

  • mahmood
    14 February 2008

    The asian expatriates were willing to sacrifice their family, loved ones, live in chicken coops, forsake their health,and work in environments that did not respect human life, to save for a better future for their loved ones back home.

    That’s not really the issue. Had it been, then the flip-side of this is that they are not respected nor appreciated in their own countries. In fact, it squarely portrays their plight in their own communities that they have to endure those hardships in order to travel and work in our countries.

    The real issue is that we should never apply the rule of “they’re better off here than they are there” because we rob ourselves of our humanity by applying our morals rather selectively.

    Remember the saying “treat others as you wish to be treated yourself“? Well, this is what should be applied regardless of a person’s origin, sexual orientation, colour or any other discriminatory feature.

    So if they are our guests in our countries, it is our rules which should be applied to those guests as we apply them to ourselves.

    Hence, the “original” labour reform, had it been implemented, would have gone a long way into making this country proud of this small step on the road to full respect of human rights.

  • Ibn
    14 February 2008

    What really irks me is how Indians/Pakistanis/Asians in general are treated worse than dirt by elitist GCC Arab nationals. (Insert generalization disclaimer here).

    A family member of mine who used to work in construction in the gulf once told me about an unofficial “list” those companies kept. But this wasnt just any list. It was a salary-list. On one column you had name, on another you had grade, and on the third, you had nationality.

    It gets worse: Apparently there were three “nationalities”: 1) Western. 2) Arab. 3) Asian.

    Here’s the real kicker: Your pay was determined by your “nationality”. If you were a qualified Pakistani with a PhD, your pay grade would still not approach that of a Westerner’s with a Bachelors.

    When confronted about the issue, management would say: “Hoowa bas Hindi! Wa7ad batani!” (He’s just an Indian! A batani!). (Batan is a province in Pakistan).

    I also never understood why those people’s passports were confiscated. The country then becomes like a prison for them. Maybe thats what those in government want.

    A local Arab can run over a “batani” and he’ll be able to pay $30 to the Pakistani embassy, and throw in an insult towards them. God help the Pakistani if he should run over a local Arab though.

    Pathetic.

    -Ibn

  • Ali
    15 February 2008

    The main culprit must be the Ministry of Works and Housing.

    If they paid more to have their houses built by trained Bahrainis and stopped trying to give these contracts to the lowest bidder all the time – a process which forces Contractors to use the cheapest labour available in the world rather than encouraging locals – then houses would be built and Bahrainis would have jobs.

    I am always disappointed when the King or Works and Housing Minister promises thousands of houses because I know the Bahraini people do not rise to the challange and the Minister does not insist that the workers are Bahrainis – he prefers cheap houses built by cheap Indians. Just look at the Tender Minister as well, full of praise for saving money for the Governent by open tender lowest bidder systems introduced.

    If a contractor gave two prices for a housing project – one using Indian labour and the other using Bahrain labour the Government would pick the cheaper Indian one every time.

    So stop blaming the Contractors and stop blaming the Indians they are victims of the Ministry’s System for the past five years.

  • Nine
    15 February 2008

    Bahraini and Screwed,

    You say “they signed contracts knowing and agreeing to what they’re getting paid”.

    I say this should apply to you too! Why are you complaining of being “screwed”? You had agreed to that did you not?

    Your argument is poor and shameful. As Mahmood has said “treat others as you wish to be treated yourself“

  • Sam
    15 February 2008

    victims of the Ministry’s System for the past five years

    Alright – I might not think that ministry in particular is to blame entirely – I think the govt as a whole is to blame for not introducing minimum wage for all. This would ensure that Bahraini compete on an equal playing field to imported labour. Wouldnt it be great to see Bahrainis involved in manual labor? Building their own country?

    Allot of contractors say introducing a minimum wage would be “detrimental” to the economy. Would it really? If everyone was paid a decent wage would they not have more cash to spend and reinvest it into the economy through the purchase of goods and services?

    Just to let you guys know, I think today’s Middle East Business Report on BBC World @ 5:30pm is a must watch. They will be looking at foreign labor and unemployment.

  • Barry
    16 February 2008

    Leonard: Well, if you can’t adapt and learn new skills, I suppose it’s only right to blame others for wanting to take your job. Survival of the fittest, isn’t that the mantra of people with similar ideals?

    Mexico? Why would you go there, your ilk don’t want them coming here for a job (well, as long as they’re legal and know their place as farm workers and gardeners y’all want them, right?).

  • Bahraini and Screwed
    16 February 2008

    you really think Bahrainis wouldn’t work in the construction sector if they were paid a good wage? haven’t you seen Bahrainis washing cars for money? haven’t you seen them demean theirselves for money? trust me Bahrainis would work in the construction sector if they were paid a decent wage. take the 57 BD salary + accomodation + annual tickets and it might equal something close to 170 BD to 200. Many Bahrainis would be more than happy to get a BD200 salary.. I’m not discriminating, and I don’t want anyone to think that I’m a racist. I’m definitely not.. All I’m saying is the problem is with the government as a whole.. I think you all agree with me when I say that many ministers and other officials aren’t even qualified enough to be in their position, especially those MPs. How do we expect our lives to get better if our futures are in the hands of those? I understand that Asians and all other expats come here for a better living, of course that’s what I said earlier. If I had a chance to leave Bahrain for a better living I will. the thing is, we Bahrainis – or at least myself – are attached to this land in an indescribable way. When I say screwed I dont mean I signed a contract that screwed me up, I mean I’m a Bahraini in my own land, in the one place that I call home and I’m being screwed by the government that for some reason hates Bahrainis. And yes the government does prefer to pay more to expats than less to Bahrainis. It’s the sad truth..

  • kevin of southbank
    16 February 2008

    Though we know someone who absolutely loves chicken. a link is here http://www.slanderyou.blogspot.com. Deep fried especially. 🙂

  • cheese cake
    16 February 2008

    Well B.S let me tell you one thing having a degree fresh out of college means nothing to any employer any where in the world; all it means is you have the basic knowledge to start a bottom level position and learn in the real world.I have been a licenced aicraft engineer for 15 years involved in aviation maintenance for 25 years all over the world both civilian & military how can you say a someone with no experience but has a new licence the same as mine should be paid the same as a western expat everywhere in the world people are paid for there experience, where they have worked and so on. Mahmood understands everything I have said he was a LAME once upon a time.

    P.S: BS is a good handle for you Bahraini & screwed

  • bonny mascarenhas
    16 February 2008

    point taken bahraini and screwed…
    “Bahrainis would work in the construction sector if they were paid a decent wage. take the 57 BD salary + accomodation + annual tickets and it might equal something close to 170 BD to 200. Many Bahrainis would be more than happy to get a BD200 salary..”

    but consider this
    1.)would you stay in the kind of accommodation they were given?..
    2.)they don’t get an annual ticket.. it every two years… so lets do some math… (tkt to india – BD220 divide by 24months (2years))= BD9/- permonth
    So the the total monthly salary including ticket= 57+9= BD66 (and not BD170 as you have assumed)

    3.)The workers allege they are not given medical leave.. one man said he fell from a scaffolding and hurt his knee… he showed his swollen knee to me.. another said his nose was cut in two (both claimed the incidents occurred on worksites.)
    They both said that they had they salary cut for the days they didn’t work while recovering and no insurance papers were filed by the company. The men were told that if they wnted insurance they had to do it….

    I agree with you if the men had a decent place to live and proper medical care they had no right to complain.

    But if you thing there are Bahrainis willing to work for BD57 (including accommodation)a month and support a family, get me their signatures. i promise you i will do my best to get it publicized and get them jobs. Please don’t think i am being sarcastic, i mean what i say.

    I have lived in bahrain from 1992 and have worked with seen how some of the poor bahraini’s live. They are my friends and i am glad to say that they are hard working. Three of them work two jobs in order to save money.
    I spoke to them today b4 writing this and they said that it is ridiculous thought that somebody should think that any person (not bahraini) could live on BD57 a month even including accommodation.

    “That amount is not enough for even an individual,” one of them told me.

  • nowhere man
    16 February 2008

    I agree Bonny, quite true. This in fact is a global phenomenon, certainly transcendent of any specific region or country. Its true, as Bahraini says, that domestic laborers would perform the tasks done by migrants or “guest workers” if they were paid a fair and reasonable wage. However, wealthy capitalists are given the option of using migrant labor at a fraction of the cost. Works for them.

    As Bahraini points out, many of the migrants are so poor and destitute in their home countries that they are compelled to accept even the miserable wages and living conditions that are offered them abroad, such as in Bahrain. Unsurprisingly, the ruling elites who control the government – the same class which controls business – are willing to “turn a blind eye” to the despicable conditions under which these people are forced to live. When they protest and struggle for better lives, many people blame them for their present condition, and tell them to shut up and accept their position. All the while, the wealthy owners are profiting off of the broken backs of our brothers and sisters.

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