New Delhi:India and Bahrain have finalized a draft Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on the Labour Mobility and Manpower Development between the two countries here today. This was done following a two- day negotiation between the Indian delegation led by Shri Vayalar Ravi, Union Minister of Overseas Indian and Parliamentary Affairs and Behrain delegation led by Dr Majeed Bin Al Alawi, Minister of Labour of Bahrain.
The proposed MOU will provide an institutional framework for strengthening bilateral cooperation in the deployment of Indian workers in Bahrain and covers a wide range of activities to make labor mobility simple transparent and efficient. This will also benefit both the countries apart from the workers and the employers. The salient features of the proposed MOU are:
• Facilitation of manpower recruitment and mutual sharing of information and experience
• Recruitment to be in conformity with the laws of both countries
• Protection of the labour law to all categories of workers
• Terms and conditions of employment contract to be in conformity with the work permit
• All contracts to be authenticated by Bahraini Govt.
• A Joint Committee consisting of three members from each country shall be responsible for the implementation of the MOU
The MOU is expected to be signed by the Ministers of both countries shortly after obtaining necessary approvals from the respective governments. During the negotiations both Ministers expressed their determination to resolve the problems of overseas Indian workers in Bahrain as well as combating malpractices like substitution of contracts, delayed or non-payment of wages, harsh working/living conditions, denial of contractual facilities, ill-treatment and physical abuse of workers are at times reported by our workers in Bahrain. Besides providing a framework to address these problems, the MOU also covers the domestic workers and others in the informal sector who do not have the protection of labor laws. There are about 50,000 expatriate HSWs in Bahrain, of which about 20,000 are Indians.
The issue of expeditious signing of the MOU was raised by the Minister of Overseas Indian Affairs, Shri Vayalar Ravi during his visit to Bahrain and also during the visit of the Bahraini Crown Prince to India last year. India had proposed during December 2006 a MOU with Bahrain for bilateral cooperation in promotion of orderly employment, protection and welfare of workers and prevention of illegal migration. It may be recalled that Minister Ravi has recently signed similar MOUs with the United Arab Emirates in December 2006, with Kuwait in April 2007 and an additional protocol with Qatar in November 2007. All these MOUs are part of a broader program of measures initiated by Minister Ravi for securing better opportunities for and ensuring the protection and welfare of Indian workers abroad. Bahrain has a population of about 1 million out of which about 2,80,000 are Indian nationals. In addition to our predominant labour force, we have a sizeable number of doctors, engineers, chartered accountants, bankers, managers and other professionals who play a vital role in the country’s socio-economic development. Between 65-70 per cent of the community is from Kerala. Bahrain is witnessing rapid economic growth and is currently undertaking an extensive program for labour market reforms. They have constituted a Labour Market Regulatory Authority as a part of the reforms. These steps by the Bahraini Government are aimed at providing better living and working conditions for expatriate workers and enforcing basic rights.