Contracting industry chief slams Bahrain sponsor move

Chamber of Commerce criticises scrapping of sponsorship for foreign workers.
Contracting industry chief slams Bahrain sponsor move
By Andy Sambidge
Sun 10 May 2009 08:33 AM

The axing of the sponsorship system for foreign workers in Bahrain will be detrimental for contracting companies, a leading official has said.

Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry Contractors' Committee head Sameer Nass said the entire sector was infuriated and claimed the government had not consulted on the move.

"We were not consulted by the government before the decision was made," he said in comments published by Gulf Daily News on Sunday.

"We were told about the idea long time ago, but our objections were not considered."

Under the new regulations, foreign workers will be directly sponsored by the Labour Market Regulatory Authority and therefore able to move jobs without the consent of their previous employer.

The changes will be effective from August.

The previous system, which is common in the Gulf Arab states and under which employers do the sponsoring, has long been criticised by human rights groups for placing workers at the whim of their employers, who usually take their passports.

Nass said businesses were mainly worried about staff working in top positions in their companies being allowed to change jobs at will.

"A high-profile company spends from BD6,000 to BD10,000 to recruit a highly-qualified senior man from abroad to manage a project costing millions of dinars. A couple of months later, after he learns the market, he decides to join a competitor for a little more money and with him takes confidential information about the company and project," he told the paper.

"This company may also get staff from competitors. But is it fair?"

He claimed the scrapping of the sponsorship system would create "a dangerous situation" where companies would have "no stability".

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