Indian envoy accused of instigating workers in Bahrain

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Dubai, Feb 16 (UNI) Even as the new minimum wages rules mooted by India have been slammed by Bahraini recruitment agencies, Indian ambassador Balkrishna Shetty has been accused of instigating expatriate workers to cause series of strikes.

The strike partly resulted from a misinterpretation of a statement last week by Mr Shetty about his country's decision to institute a minimum wage of 975 Dirham for all Indian unskilled workers starting March 1, Labour Ministry said.

Last week's strike by 600 workers, mainly from India, employed by Almoayyed Contracting was followed by a second strike last Sunday by 1,300 labourers from contractor GP Zachariades and 200 workers of the Mohsin Hajji Ali Group.

The workers demanded better living conditions, including an adequate supply of water and electricity, medical care and better wages.

While two of the labour movements have ended, a strike at the Durrat Al Bahrain (a multi-billion-dollar man-made island development) was continuing after strikers pledged not to resume work until the issue was resolved satisfactorily.

Labour minister Majeed Al Alawi has ordered the creation of a commission to help resolve disputes involving foreign labourers.

The strike, however, was termed ''illegal'' because it contravened the labourers' contracts, the Gulf news quoted ministry spokesperson as saying.

Some contractors employing the strikers demanding the intervention of the foreign ministry blamed foreign instigation over workers' refusal to work. They complained that the statements about the minimum wage assured the labourers of official support and snowballed the strikes.

Indian embassy officials, however, rejected the allegations, saying the new minimum wage was an official Indian policy decided months ago, which would affect labourers recruited after March 1.

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