Efforts made by Bahrain’s Migrant Workers’ Protection Society (MWPS) to improve conditions in labour camps have stalled due to the unwillingness of owners to co-operate, reports Geoffrey Bew in Gulf Daily News.
The MWPS had pledged in August ’08 to spend BD5000 (US$13,263) on a scheme to upgrade labour camps, which would include safety measures such as re-fitting kitchens and replacing kerosene stoves with gas to reduce the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
Bahrain’s labour camps have a poor record on safety; sixteen Indian workers were killed and seven injured in 2006 when a fire broke out at Gadabia labour camp in Manama, while a fire destroyed workers accomodation in East Riffa in May 2007.
Companies have been largely unreceptive to MWPS’s efforts. ‘People don’t accept new ideas readily’ said Sathis Kumar, head of MWPS’s Welfare and Safety Committee.
However, Mr Kumar is undetterred by the lack of enthusiasm among companies. The organisation has already visited 15 labour camps in Bahrain to give presentations to workers in Tamil, Hindi, Bengali, Malayalam and English on health, safety and how to react in an emergency and aims to keep on working to raise awareness and improve conditions of the ‘poorest of the poor’ in Bahrain.