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India fixes minimum wage for its workers in Bahrain

Dubai, Feb 7 (IANS) Employers in Bahrain will have to pay a minimum salary of 100 Bahraini Dinars ($266) a month to unskilled workers from India across all sectors.

"Effective from March 1, all unskilled workers from India in Bahrain will have to be paid a minimum salary of Bahraini Dinar 100," India's Ambassador to Bahrain Balkrishna Shetty told IANS by phone from Manama Thursday.

"This new salary benchmark already covered Indian housemaids since October last year, but now it will include all unskilled workers, including those in the construction sector," he said.

There are around 275,000 Indians in the Gulf nation, many of them working as contract labourers in the booming construction industry.

The ambassador said from now on all such salaries would have to be paid through banks, a system already being implemented in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), another Gulf nation with a huge expatriate Indian population.

"We are linking the wage structure with the cost of living and want the salaries to be paid through banks," Shetty said. This will protect workers from exploitation, inflation and the appreciation of the rupee, he added.

The value of the US dollar-pegged Bahraini Dinar has been going down in recent times.

Salaries of workers have also not been commensurate to the rising oil prices globally.

Shetty said that the Indian mission has been working with the ministry of overseas Indian affairs to put the new measures in place.

Last month, Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs Vayalar Ravi called for the introduction of a widely accepted international norm of linking the wage structure of overseas workers to the cost of living in the respective countries.

"The rising cost of living combined with fall in the value of the dollar has severely eroded the real wages that an overseas worker receives," Ravi said, speaking at the fourth ministerial consultation on overseas employment and contractual labour for countries of origin and destination in Asia in Abu Dhabi.

"This has placed considerable stress on workers of all nationalities. There is an urgent need to introduce a widely accepted international norm for linking the wages structure to the cost of living," he said.

Indo-Asian News Service

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