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Thu 7 Feb 2008 01:02 PM

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India threatens to cut off Gulf labour supply

Bahrain targeted first as India embarks on GCC-wide minimum wage campaign.

The Indian government has banned its unskilled workers from migrating to Bahrain, unless they are paid a minimum wage of 100 Bahraini dinars ($265) a month, in a bid to prevent exploitation.

The government is refusing to grant Bahrain work visas to unskilled Indian labourers, including construction workers, unless they have contracts confirming the minimum wage, Bahrain’s Gulf Daily News reported on Thursday.

The minimum wage legislation comes into force on March 1, and will apply to Indian workers already in Bahrain when their current contracts expire.

The Indian government is fixing minimum wages for each Gulf country, according to the local cost of living, the newspaper said.

Neither the Embassy of India in Abu Dhabi or the New Delhi-based Embassy of the United Arab Emirates could confirm to ArabianBusiness.com on Thursday whether a minimum wage had been implemented in the UAE.

Indian Ambassador Balkrishna Shetty told the newspaper the minimum wage will protect workers from exploitation, inflation and the rising value of the rupee.

The new law follows a series of protests by disgruntled workers in Bahrain and other GCC countries last year over pay and conditions.

Workers at Almoayyed Contracting's East Eker labour camp returned to work on Wednesday after a two day strike.

The 750 Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi workers had refused to return to work until their pay was increased to 85 dinars a month from 60 dinars currently.

They eventually agreed to an increase of 15 dinars, an offer they had initially rejected, due to fears they could be deported, the newspaper quoted.

In the most high-profile strike in the Gulf last year, thousands of Arabtec labourers working on the site of the world's tallest building, the Burj Dubai, refused to go back to work for almost two week until their demands were met.

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