Amid government failure, leading Bahraini company uses coronavirus as excuse to lay off dozens of workers

London- Ramsis Engineering company in Bahrain must immediately halt its unfair terminations of dozens of its workers, says ImpACT International for Human Rights Policies.

The London-based think tank investigated the complaints of 16 Bahraini employees of the engineering company after being informed they would be dismissed by the end of June. ImpACT International contacted Ramsis Engineering and asked for clarification regarding the incident. However, no response has been received.

We were shocked that we were arbitrarily dismissed under the pretext of an economic crisis due to the coronavirus pandemic

-one of the employees at Ramsis Engineering 

"We were shocked that we were arbitrarily dismissed under the pretext of an economic crisis due to the coronavirus pandemic," said one of the employees via email, adding that their termination came after the workers’ wages were delayed several times over the last two and a half years. The payment of wages was delayed from two to four months. The employee further said that when the company informed workers of their dismissal, it posted vacancy announcements for foreign workers or sought Bahraini workers requiring lower salaries.

Dozens of workers at Ramsis Engineering have received late wages since the beginning of 2018, and the crisis recently worsened despite many promises by management to resolve it.

Workers also suffer from harsh living conditions and heavy debt, although they have no option to continue to work on the company's projects. Since foreign workers have no other source of income, they often must borrow to cover basic needs.

ImpACT International urges Bahraini authorities to end the suffering of Ramsis workers caused by irregular payment of wages and arbitrary terminations, especially in light of burdens already imposed by the coronavirus outbreak.

The Bahraini government should also enforce all labor laws and implement penalties for non-compliance.

According to 2019 statistics, the number of foreign workers in Bahrain has reached 782,000. These individuals make up the majority of the total labor force in both the public and private sectors. Most work in low-skill and low-salary jobs in the construction, trade, manufacturing and domestic work sectors.

A large number of these foreign workers are from South Asia and fall prey to exploitation, despite government reforms intended to protect them.

Article 23 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights stipulates that, "Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment .Everyone, without any discrimination, has the right to equal pay for equal work .Everyone who works has the right to just and favourable remuneration ensuring for himself and his family an existence worthy of human dignity, and supplemented, if necessary, by other means of social protection. Everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests."

ImpACT International for Human Rights Policies stresses that Bahraini authorities must fulfill their obligation to protect workers' rights, including the right to fair and timely compensation and safe work conditions, in accordance with the provisions of the Bahraini Labor Law passed in 2012.

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