Bahrainization: Rules to regulate job market on the way

New rules were in the pipeline to stop expats from competing with Bahrainis

  
Image used for illustrative purpose. Bahrain developments.

Image used for illustrative purpose. Bahrain developments.

Getty Images

New rules that will prevent expatriates from competing with Bahrainis for jobs are in the pipeline, a senior minister told MPs.

Labour and Social Development Minister Jameel Humaidan said during Parliament’s weekly session yesterday that specific guidelines were being drawn up as directed by the Cabinet.

The minister, who is also Labour Market Regulatory Authority (LMRA) chairman, said Bahrain had witnessed unprecedented circumstances concerning expat workers since the outbreak of the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.

He said the situation called for out-of-the-box initiatives to maintain the country’s progress.

“We needed to address several issues during Covid-19 concerning expat workers,” he said.

“We encouraged illegal workers to regularise their stay and work permits because having them roam around without jobs, income or leaving posed challenges.

“Around 53,000 expats corrected their stay while 5,000 left the kingdom; no one was forced to leave.”

Mr Humaidan said flexi permits were now toughly governed following decisions by His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, Crown Prince Prime Minister.

“MPs and the Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry raised objections against the flexi permit system and Prince Salman introduced several decisions making it harder to get them.

“No runaway or violating expat worker is allowed flexi permits and they are not issued commercial registrations so as to prevent them from competing with local businesses.

“No legalised worker is allowed flexi permits.”

Mr Humaidan said new rules were in the pipeline to stop expats from competing with Bahrainis.

“Job vacancies are being announced for expats now to absorb those here to prevent the country from facing security or negative social impact.

“Businessmen need to continue their obligations and they need workers so this is an option.”

He said Bahrain had not differentiated between workers and citizens regarding health and well-being.

“All workers are our responsibility and we have not let anyone get affected but even helped those affected through proactive approaches.”

Mr Humaidan said it was a challenge to balance things during Covid-19 but Bahrain managed to do it.

The minister was speaking during an open debate on illegal workers during Covid-19.

However, Parliament first vice-chairman Abdulnabi Salman said he did not trust the ministry, LMRA or their officials.

“In April, May and June during peak Covid-19, 16,662 expats were employed locally while only 2,400 Bahrainis were employed,” he claimed.

“It is a shame that jobs in thousands are announced for expats in the local media.

“Kuwait deported 70,000 expats, Saudi Arabia and the UAE also deported thousands.

“Deport them from Bahrain, too, to prevent them from stomping on our children who don’t have jobs or income and are living in poverty, sickness and depression.

“Around 72,000 work applications for Bahrainis were thrown in the garbage while expats hold career expos in their clubs.”

Parliament services committee chairman Ahmed Al Ansari said expats were getting flexi permits to work in hotels.

“Expats want anything to make money and the shift to hotels is the best way to make large sums and that’s why many on flexi permits are now there doing God knows what.”

mohammed@gdn.com.bh

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