03/12/2009, 00.00
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Labour relations, minimum wage and Friday prayer

Bahrain’s labour minister is against the minimum wage, fearing that it would force many companies under, and eventually benefit foreign workers, many of whom are unskilled. He is also against compulsory time off for Muslims for Friday prayers.
Manama (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Bahrain is debating new labour legislation. Among the issues involved are the minimum wage and Friday prayer.

Labour Minister Majeed Al Alawi is against a minimum wage policy for the private sector, saying that it would cause serious problems to the economy.

Although he believes that Bahraini nationals should not be paid less than BD300 (about US$ 1,000), requiring all companies to “follow this policy would mean that some of them would be bankrupt”. In the end it would be extended to all workers, including the large army of foreign workers employed largely as unskilled labourers. 

Al Alawi is also a staunch supporter of Bahrainisation, which would enable Bahraini nationals to take over jobs now held by expatriates.

The conditions many employers face at present and the current economic crisis go against a minimum wage. 

The debate has also touched the issue of Friday prayer for Muslim employees.

Many in the emirate want the right to time off for Friday prayer written into law.

This however could spell disaster for many companies and have a major impact on the national economy.

As for Al Alawi “from a religious viewpoint, there is no holiday on Friday.”

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