x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

An analysis of the labour situation in Bahrain

Readers also defend housewives, and assert women rights to drive cars, and say a bus crash could've been avoided.

People stroll down a quiet street in downtown Manama, Bahrain. A reader points out that the dynamics of labour relations are now taking a political tone. Sergey Ponomarev / AP
People stroll down a quiet street in downtown Manama, Bahrain. A reader points out that the dynamics of labour relations are now taking a political tone. Sergey Ponomarev / AP

I refer to the editorial Back from the brink in Bahrain (June 13). In the midst of the crisis that hit the tiny island kingdom of Bahrain, the government appears eager to gain support as the country heads towards national dialogue scheduled to begin on July 1. As a result, the government can be seen to make concessions particularly to the merchant class in order to bargain for its backing.

Since 2006, the Crown Prince has undertaken a series of reforms with regards to the Bahraini labour market, in spite of the merchant class's opposition. Prime amongst these measures were the 10 Bahraini dinar (Dh97) monthly fees for foreign workers and the freedom of foreign workers to shift employers without their previous employer's consent.

Both measures were aimed at rendering foreign labour less attractive to businessmen in an effort to reduce local unemployment.

The crisis, however, presented the merchant class with the ideal opportunity to tip the scales in its favour. Having adopted an ambivalent position at first, the merchant class represented mainly by the Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) succeeded in bargaining for concessions in exchange for support.

It is thus expected that the government might continue to offer concessions of both an economic and a political nature to the merchant class as it begins to engage in negotiations with the opposition.

It would be regrettable, however, for the government to completely lose sight of the labour reforms' primary objective, namely the reduction of unemployment - a major long-term cause of the recent unrest - in exchange for short-term political gains.

Hasan Alhasan, Abu Dhabi

Women have a right to drive cars

In reference to the letter to the editor Reasons for allowing Saudi women to drive (June 19), the ban on women being allowed to drive places an undue constraint and severe impairment on many women, most especially those who are unmarried, who do not have family to care for them, who are poor or who have children to raise. If a woman in Saudi needs to travel, she must depend upon others. If she has no family, then she is forced to depend upon strangers to get from one part of town to another.

Typically, a woman without family to drive her must walk everywhere that she needs to go, often burdened down with heavy bags. This is especially difficult for women of little means or mothers with children, who do not have the benefit of someone to provide for them.

By banning women from driving, Saudi Arabia claims to be enforcing an Islamic fatwa. However, the fatwa is oppressive and unconscionable since in Islam, the rights of women are respected, giving women a revered status in society. But some obsessively dominant men, addicted to their need for control and superiority, do not seem to want to grant that level of rights to women.

Dr Salee Amina Mohammed, US

In defence of housewives

I was disappointed to see that the M Magazine article To work or not to work ... (June 18) portrayed the women who did not work as being "Jumeirah Janes". Many expat women have given up their careers to enable their partners to advance in theirs. The big salary and expat package often mean long hours so that the responsibility of running the home and childcare fall solely on the other partner.

For many, cheap childcare, unsafe school buses and intolerable summer heat are not a viable option. Often well-educated, skilled, talented, selfless women will not work, to enable their family to enjoy a better quality of life. Not all non-working women spend endless hours on self-grooming or hobbies. Many do unpaid voluntary work for which there is no pension and little status. Their self worth is not measured by their salaries and they are still able to be positive role models to their children.

Jill Wilcox, Abu Dhabi

Bad judgement in bus crash

In reference to the news article Bus crash driver is detained (June 16), I know it's hindsight, but why on earth didn't the bus driver drive on to the hard shoulder? You can still drive without a tyre. And why did the school bus hit him?

Lizzie English, Dubai

Missing a great racing film

I refer to Outcry as brakes put on Senna film (June 18). This makes little sense. The local distributor would make good money as the film is of interest to a large cross section of the population here. I saw the film last week in the UK and I can highly recommend it. This is easily the best motor racing movie since Grand Prix, released in 1966.

Barry Hope, Dubai