Bahrain labour minister warns of ‘Asian tsunami’


Labour Minister Majid al-Alawi told Asharq Al-Awsat that the presence of almost 17 million foreign workers in the Gulf, mostly from the Asian sub-continent, represented "a danger worse than the atomic bomb or an Israeli attack".

"I am not exaggerating that the number will reach almost 30 million in ten years from now," he told the pan-Arab daily.

Alawi has called for the residency of foreign workers in the oil-rich Gulf states to be limited to six years but the leadership of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council has not followed up on the proposal.

"The commercial lobby in the Gulf thwarted the project which was in the final phases before being implemented," he said.

Alawi said that Gulf nationals were "lazy" and "spoilt", relying on imported labour for the simplest of tasks.

"A lord with billions in Great Britain cleans his own car on a Sunday morning, whereas people of the Gulf look for someone to hand them a glass of water from just a couple of metres away," he said.

"If the Gulf governments do not watch out for this tsunami of foreign labourers, the fate of this region is very worrying," he said.

In October, Alawi called for the Gulf’s "sponsonship" system to be abandoned, saying it left foreign workers at the mercy of the individuals or institutions which employ them.

He called for government to oversee visas and work permits to protect the rights of foreign workers, in a region which human rights organisations have often accused of abusing employees in slave-like conditions.


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