Businessmen here have reacted sharply to Bahrain’s plan to scrap the sponsorship system for foreign workers and said if such a move was made here it could spell disaster for them.
Manama has announced it would enforce on August 1 a new labour law that would allow expatriate workers to switch jobs without seeking permission from their employer.
But some expatriates The Peninsula spoke to lauded Bahrain and said it would become the first GCC state to take such a step.
“It would make their labour market mobile and competitive, which would be good for the country’s economy,” Adil, an expatriate said, refusing to divulge his full name.
The Qatar Chamber of Commerce and Industry (QCCI), representative body of the private sector, without hailing or criticising Bahrain’s plans, said point-blank there was no need to remove the existing sponsorship system.
“Our sponsorship law is well-organised, so there is no need for change,” said Mohamed Ahmed Towar Al Kuwari, executive director of QCCI.
He said Qatar’s sponsorship system provided protection to both, foreign workers and their employers. “If you remove the system everything would go haywire and workers will suffer more.”
When the law provided scope for sponsorship change in case of mistreatment of workers, what was the need to remove it, was his argument.
Industrialist and businessman Abdul Hadi Al Shahwani suggested the existing sponsorship law could be changed to remove the ban on job change, but he warned: “It would spell doom for nationals.”
When told that businessmen could take their grievances to the QCCI in case of a problem in a no-sponsorship change regime, for instance, he said no such bodies were effective in addressing such problems.
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