With social welfare campaigns intensively carried out in Bahrain, the plight of blue-collar workers are a concern to many.  The living conditions and working hours of private security guards in Bahrain have caught the attention of the General Trade Union of Services Workers (GTU).

According to GTU, it is seen that many private security guards work for over 12 hours every day for 7 days a week and earn from anywhere between BD 100 to BD 140. Although many have signed contracts for the same, they are not aware of what is being written and they have voiced their distress. Due to their prolonged sitting or standing, guards tend to have  an increased risk for varicose veins.

“Even when I joined they told me that it was a 7-day week job. I don’t get any time to do anything else. When I tell them the issues I face neither do they try to address it nor show any understanding of my situation. They tell me ‘if you want to work, you can or else look for another job’” said a blue collar worker to Albilad who wished to remain anonymous.

“Even if you have a long tenure with the company, you can’t expect a hike in the salaries. What I get now is not enough with the rising cost of living here. That is the situation” added the worker.

According to the Labour Law in the Private Sector, issued by Law No. (36) of the year 2012, in particular Article (56), it states that the maximum working actual hours for workers engaged in processing and supplementary which must be completed before or after the end of official working hours and guards and cleaning workers is 48 hours a week. And the maximum overtime is 12 hours a week.

Thampi NagarjunaSpeaking to Albilad “This is a vital amendment that is being misused by cleaning and security companies in Bahrain. Nowhere around the globe can anybody be forced to work for 12 hours continuously for seven days. Even for cleaning and security personnel, maximum working hours are 10 hours a day. That means apart from the 8 hours that adds to 48 hours in a week, the additional 12 hours can be divided according to their needs. But any work can only be implemented maximum for 6 days in a week” said GTU Advisor Thampi Nagarjuna.

“It’s pathetic that blue collar workers are being exploited. They are being paid a meagre amount. Be it in their accommodations, 16 people share a single bathroom. So just imagine that if they have to work for 12 hours a day then they need to wake up at 3 am in the morning to even get started and prepare their meal” he added.

Most of the workers do not express their concern in the fear of losing their jobs. Initiatives are being urged to be taken to educate both employees and employers of their rights and what they are entitled to.  Mr Thampi Nagarjuna also spoke at the two-day workshop hosted by the General Federation of Bahrain Trade Unions (GFBTU) focusing on the protection and welfare of domestic workers.