Hope for 'abandoned' workers
There was some relief for the 40 Asian workers, including Indians, allegedly abandoned by their Bahraini employer, after a leading human rights group in Bahrain came to their rescue.
The Bahrain Human Rights Watch Society (BHRWS) has said that it will take the case to the Human Rights Council of the United Nations in Geneva if the authorities in Bahrain don't take action.
The BHRWS met the group of workers Tuesday after reading reports in the media, according to the Gulf Daily News newspaper.
"We want this problem to be solved soon or else we are planning to take the case to the Human Rights Council in Geneva," the newspaper report quoted BHRWS regional and international director Faisal Fulad as saying.
The workers have alleged that they were abandoned by their company, the Al Khaja Establishment, and they have not been paid their salaries for the last nine months. They have been working as drivers, machine operators, painters and electricians and their salaries ranged from Bahraini dinar (BHD) 50 to BHD120.
Fulad said that BHRWS will buy food for the workers after a nearby cold store stopped supplying them food after they a ran up a credit bill of BHD3,000. He also said that BHRWS will give them money ranging from BHD30 to BHD40 every two to three days so that they can buy food, according to the report.
"But it will not be a final solution to this problem," he was quoted as saying.
The workers, including Pakistanis and Nepalis, have filed five court cases against the company. Company chairman Jassim Al Khaja, however, says that it is the workers who have abandoned the company to work for others.
"If these men are runaway workers, why are they still staying at the company's labour camp in Eker?" Fulad asked, while speaking to the newspaper. "The company is answerable to this question."
He also said that if the workers have run away from the company, then it should have filed cases against them in the lower courts which it has not done.
Many of the workers had submitted their resignations, but the company told them that they needed to pay for their own air tickets and fines for overstaying, Fulad was quoted as saying.
"They have no valid residence visas, their passports are with their employers and all their CPR (cardio-pulmonary resuscitation) cards have expired," he said.
In fact, many of their families back home in the respective countries are in dire straits because of their plight, it was claimed.
Fulad also alleged that the accommodation provided to the workers was so unhygienic the BHRWS team could not come close to it. He also alleged that the food that the workers have been have been having is not nutritious.
The newspaper report said that company officials were not available for comment Tuesday.