A few months ago, the Ministry of Labour meekly suggested that workers should be transported in covered vehicles, they meant buses I assume, which should be adequately air conditioned. So canny businessmen slapped on some plywood boards around the back of 6-wheel trucks and shoved all their labourers in there.
That should have been enough – as far as those businessmen are concerned – to provide a safe, covered and as it was open to the elements, would also provide adequate air conditioning if the truck driver put peddle to the metal – which seems to be their specialty anyway – slowing down only enough to discharge their load of humans, but never stopping in the interim. If a worker falls as he disembarks and cracks his skull, well so what, it’s a lowly Indian anyway.
Two days ago, something pipped the Ministry of Labour again to have their undersecretary once again meddling with businessmen’s profits:
New rules governing workersÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ transportation have been drawn up by the Labour Ministry and the Interior MinistryÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s General Directorate of Traffic.
Trucks should be used only to transport materials and not human beings, said Labour Ministry labour relations director Shaikh Ali bin Abdulrahman Al Khalifa.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Workers should be transported on buses and not on trucks or pick-ups,Ã¢â‚¬Â he told the GDN.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“We are concerned about the safety of workers. They should be transported on vehicles which have proper seats equipped with seat-belts.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Fair enough. But the “business community” (I’m not one of that club, I refuse to be one of them) went ape.
However, the business community in Bahrain says it is not practical to transport all workers by buses to their workplaces and back.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“It will cause huge financial burden for businessmen,Ã¢â‚¬Â said Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) board member and contractorsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ committee chairman Samir Nass.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“The number of labourers in Bahrain is about 200,000.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“The cost of providing air-conditioned transport for all of them is estimated at BD50 million to BD100m.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Mr Nass said transporting construction workers on air-conditioned buses would also adversely affect their health.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“After travelling in an air-conditioned environment for half an hour or so, when they step out into hot and humid weather conditions, they are likely to catch cold,Ã¢â‚¬Â he said.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“It will affect their productivity.”
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Mr. Nass had a “serious lapse of reason” (just in case he takes personal offence at using a certain “b” word and decides to take me to court too!) actually several lapses which you can pick yourself from the linked text above.
I was discussing this with my wife coming over the Sitra causeway this afternoon and seeing several of these contraptions which Mr. Nass and his colleagues ascertain are more than enough to transport workers in, they are looking after their health after all! Frances suggested why don’t they try this mode of transport for themselves – meaning the businessmen – and see how they like it?
That’s a good suggestion! We should hire one of those very safe, naturally aerated and conditioned, sun-protected worker transport units and get all those businessmen to be transported in to/from their places of work for a few days. We too would like to take care of our captains of industry (no, they are not captains of indentured workers, how dare you!) and see how they fair, especially that the smelly season is upon us?
Any takers for this campaign? I think it would be very educational for our capitans and this will also give them the opportunity to show their leadership by practicing what they preach!
Let’s find out when Mr. Nass’ committee actually meets at the Chamber of Commerce & Industry, bring a truck to the door and shove the whole committee members in the back of these trucks for a field trip of discovery!