Proposal to force expats over 50 out of Bahrain causing outrage

Published:  13 Apr at 6 PM
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Tagged: USA
Sunday’s proposal by Bahraini MPs that expat workers over the age of 50 should be sacked and deported is now causing outrage and criticism.

The plan, submitted by the National Partnership Parliamentary Bloc, claimed the reason behind the proposal was that older employees are de facto less efficient than their younger colleagues. Although Kuwaiti MPs have proposed something similar, reaction to the Bahraini suggestion is brewing a social media storm of opposition.

Comments include ‘discrimination’, ‘unfair’ and ‘shocking’, with chairwoman of the Migrant Workers’ Protection Society Marietta Dias stating that it’s a plot to reduce the number of expat workers in the emirate. By any standards, she adds, 55 is the retirement age and 50 is not considered old in this day and age.

Dias believes that, should the government wish to get rid of expats, they should say so directly rather than making spurious claims about expats’ lack of fitness to work. Chair of a committee attached to the Bahrain Chamber of Commerce Mohammed Sajid is equally annoyed, having described the plan as unfair and shocking, especially for expats who have given their best over many years. Sajid believes the proposal breaches human rights, saying that many expats over 50 or even over 60 are chief executives, managing directors or holders of other high posts in business and commerce.

He adds that Bahrain would find it very difficult to replace those summarily sacked and deported with others of a similar high calibre, although in an ideal world Bahrainis should be a priority. However, he feels that many skills desperately needed are simply not available locally, leaving companies no option but to recruit from overseas.

According to Qays Zu’bi, president of Bahrain’s American Chamber of Commerce, if an age cap is to be imposed, it should be for all employees, no matter what their nationality or status in the country. In foreign banks overseas, he said, it’s common for over 55-year olds to retire, allowing younger professionals to take over, but a generous retirement package is always offered.

Long-term British expat Jackie Beedie, general manager of SEC Industrial Battery, believes if the proposal was made law, a brain drain would be the immediate result. Experience comes with age, she adds, with the productivity coming from that experience disappearing along with the expatriate himself.
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