Bahrain midday work ban being flouted

Several contractors in the country claim the ban is 'impractical' and not yet valid.

The Indian embassy claims firms are taking advantage of workers.
The Indian embassy claims firms are taking advantage of workers.

Several contractors in Bahrain are flouting the midday working ban, claiming it is ‘impractical' and will only be valid once it has been published in the Official Gazette.

"It still hasn't been printed in the Official Gazette, so technically it is not official," said Khalid Al Merbati, director of committee department affairs, Bahrain Chambers of Commerce and Industry.

"But the bigger issue here is that the midday working ban doesn't have enough thought behind it. Firstly, the workers aren't happy about the four-hour downtime since they have nothing to do or nowhere to go, and transporting them to and from work twice a day is a hassle. Secondly, some jobs have to be done continuously. Things like ready mixing and concreting cannot be stopped, so these things have to be taken into account before one can come up with a law and ban something for good."

But the Indian ambassador to Bahrain, Balkrishna Shetty, claims that this is just an excuse that contractors are using to take advantage of the situation.

"The law has been passed by the Ministry of Labour. The fact it hasn't yet been printed in the Official Gazette is of no relevance at all. It does not give anyone the right to flout the rule. Publishing the rule in the Official Gazette is just a formality and contractors are using this loophole as a mere excuse to take advantage of the workers."

Shetty argued that if transporting the workers back to their camps was a problem, contractors should provide air-conditioned resting areas for their workers. And if some jobs required non-stop work, they should be working in shifts where other workers take over from the outgoing ones.

Bahrain's midday working ban runs from noon until 4pm during July and August.

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