A collapse of Bahrain’s ready-to-wear clothes industry appears imminent, as a result of a number of new employment regulations, which have recently been initiated by local authorities and geared at increasing the Bahrainization ratios.
According to Al-Sharq Al-Awsat newspaper, such regulations are perceived by the local industry, which went into high gear in the mid-eighties, as measures that will weaken the competitiveness of local firms against foreign brands.
Local clothes manufacturers have urged the Bahraini Ministry of Labor to cancel these measures, claiming that they will increase their clothes production costs, and thus jeopardize their ability to compete. Such regulation of the labor sector, in regards to the local ready-to-clothes industry, they claim, threatens the survival of at least 70 local factories.
The indigenous factories have been required to raise their Bahrainization ratios by five percent per annum, aiming to reach a minimum local-employment quota of 50 percent. Moreover, these factories are required to raise the salaries of their Bahraini workers to 120 Bahraini dinars ($318).
The number of workers employed in Bahrain’s ready-to-wear clothes sector grew to 9,790 in 2000, an eight percent rise compared with 1992. Thirty two percent of the employees in this industry—2,717 laborers— are Bahrainis. Sixty percent of the total Bahrainis employed in the clothes industry are women. — (Albawaba-MEBG)
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