Two Bahraini MPs have joined calls for a two-month summer outdoor work ban to be extended by a month.
Launched in 2007 to protect workers from potentially fatal heat-related medical conditions, all outdoor work is banned in the country between midday and 4pm during July and August.
However, parliament first deputy Abdulnabi Salman and Sayed Falah Hashim, both members of the Progressive Democratic Tribune bloc, said the ban should be enforced from mid-June to mid-September.
Other GCC countries implement a three-month ban, starting on June 1 in Oman and Kuwait, and on June 15 in Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Qatar.
“We raised it as a request in parliament and we are glad that a number of MPs backed our proposal for a three-month ban,” Mr Salman told the GDN.
“We see no reason why Bahrain can’t follow its neighbours. The temperatures are the same in most of the Gulf states.”
The GDN reported last week that a June heatwave has seen an increase in the number of people requiring medical attention for climate-related ailments, with temperatures reaching a high of 43C over the weekend.
Activists in Bahrain have previously lobbied to extend the ban so that it includes September.
However, the government has been reluctant because of its implications for the private sector – which has suffered from the impacts of a global economic crisis, widespread unrest in 2011 and now rising costs of doing business due to austerity measures imposed by authorities.
“If the businesses in the other GCC could understand and accept the need for an extended work ban period, I think we should be able to convince our businessmen as well,” said Mr Salman.
“It is always for the good for businesses as providing proper working conditions will enhance the productivity of the employees, which means they are at an advantage.
“Moreover, reviewing and revising this law will put Bahrain in a good light internationally especially with our minister (Jameel Humaidan) currently attending the International Labour Organisation meeting in Geneva.”
The MPs said they would present their proposal to the Labour and Social Development Ministry also while pursuing it in parliament.
“I have already communicated the matter to the ministry’s occupational safety head Ahmed Al Hayki,” said Mr Hashim.
“We are waiting for the minister to return from Geneva so that we can take up the matter with him. We will also be consulting with the employers’ representative body.
“We also strongly insist that every employer makes sure that the outdoor worksites have the relevant facilities as stipulated in the law.
“There should be shaded places for the workers to take rest, with provision for water, as some sites are in remote areas where there are no shops to buy food or water.
“We also call for strict inspections during the workban period and violators must be punished.”
The GDN reported in June last year that senior members of the Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) board offered support for the idea.
BCCI first deputy Khalid Najibi and vice-treasurer Waleed Kanoo who backed an extension of the ban had agreed to discuss the proposal with the team.
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