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27 May 2022

Bahrain: 5 years after first reports of late payments, workers sent home amid COVID-19 & promised dues remain unpaid while one has died waiting for compensation

Workers for GP Zachariades Civil Engineering have faced repeated difficulties accessing wages since 2016, when the company claimed to be facing financial trouble when several of its private and government contracts went unpaid. In 2020, Migrant-Rights reported that most of those who had received salaries were European; many south Asian workers remain unpaid. The company closed in July 2019. In 2021 the Labour Ministry filed a case against the company for failing to settle dues of 18 remaining workers.

Below is a list of worker protests and developments. In one case a protester died after being struck by a tear gas canister fired by police.

  • In July 2016 it was reported that 2,000 workers had allegedly not been paid for the previous two and a half months by GPZ. The 2,000 workers staged a protest march between their labour accommodation in Ma'ameer and the Labour and Social Development Ministry. The company disputed the figure, claiming instead that only 600 workers took part and that workers had only been unpaid for 45 days. It also denied that workers were marching toward the Labour Ministry, claiming instead they were moving from one labour camp to another.
  • In January 2017 it was reported that around 350 workers again took strike action due to salary delays for nearly two months. A further protest involving 200 workers took place a fortnight later. During this protest, an Indian national was allegedly struck with a teargas cannister from police and later died in hospital; authorities disputed this, claiming the worker died from natural causes.
  • In January 2017, the Indian Embassy and Bahrain's Labour Ministry intervened to take up the issue with company management. The company paid one set of pending salaries immediately, but then failed to pay the next due salaries. Bahraini police stated that they took no action against the protestors because the protest was deemed peaceful.
  • In December 2018 GDN reported that over 150 Indian, Bangladeshi, Pakistani and Nepali workers took protest action after allegedly going four months without pay. Most did not have valid visas or money.
  • In February 2020, GDN reported on an ongoing pay dispute between GPZ and around 50 migrant workers, following a new appear by an NGO on behalf of the employees. The engineers, security guards and labourers had reportedly been in Bahrain illegally for the previous two years. They are reliant on charitable relief, having not been paid from the previous month. In response to the 2020 appeal, Labour Ministry representatives stated that no formal complaint had been submitted but that they were liaising with GPZ to resolve the issue.
  • Later in February 2020, NGO Migrant Rights reported on the ongoing case, focusing on 52 remaining workers stranded in a labour camp whilst they pursue between 6 and 18 months’ worth of wages and their end-of-service benefits. The men are struggling to access food, water and medicine and are living in poor conditions. Most of the workers have irregular status and state that their embassies have not been supportive.
  • In May 2020, Migrant Rights reported that workers had once again visited the Ministry of Labour, to be told that the government and other clients had not sent payments needed to settle wages and turned them away.
  • In May 2021 the Labour Ministry filed a case against GPZ for failing to settle the owed dues of 18 workers who remained in accommodation.
  • In May 2022, Migrant-Rights.org reported that Muhammad Elias, who died a year after being promised his dues and being sent home, while awaiting life-saving treatment his dues would have covered three times over.