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27 Sep 2021

Bahrain: Migrant workers at Bapco, NSH and Gulf Asia Contracting protest over labour abuses incl. unsafe working conditions & non-payment of wages; incl. cos. responses

On 14 September 2021, Migrant-Rights.org published an article alleging that thousands of migrant workers, mainly from India and Nepal, employed at Nasser S. Al Hajri Corporation W.L.L (NSH), Gulf Asia Contracting Company LLC, and Bahrain Petroleum Company (BAPCO) had protested against a number of labour rights violations. The allegations included unsafe working conditions, unhygienic and crowded accommodation, non-payment of wages, and substandard food.

According to the article, the workers initiated a strike on 7 September after one of the workers “allegedly had a sunstroke and was hospitalised”. The strike allegedly turned into a one week long protest after the workers suffered violent reprisals and were severely beaten by the companies’ security stuff, causing injuries among them.

A full statement from Bahrain's Ministry of Labor and Social Development on the strikes can be read in the Migrant-Rights.org article.

The ministry indicated that the company has already started correcting the workers’ conditions and achieving the demands they made, including the services provided in the company’s housing, noting the agreement to end the strike and the workers’ return to work starting today, September 12, 2021, and the necessity of the company’s commitment to labour regulations and legislation in the Kingdom Bahrain, and adherence to the requirements and specifications suitable for housing and a decent and healthy work environment. The Ministry of Labor and Social Development concluded by emphasizing that the situation has returned to normal between the company and the workers.
Statement from Bahrain's Ministry of Labor and Social Development to Migrant-Rights.org

The Business & Human Rights Resource Centre invited NSH, Gulf Asia Contracting and Bapco to respond. Their responses are below. NSH told us their response was also on behalf of Gulf Asia Contracting as they are part of the same group.

The Resource Centre also invited the three companies named in a joint venture and contracted by Bapco to work on the same project (expanding and upgrading Bapco’s existing refining facilities), to respond to the article and the allegations, particularly to clarify whether their workers were involved in the protests and if so what action they are now taking. Technip FMC clarified that they are no longer a part of the JV and directed us to Technip Energies. We received responses from Samsung Engineering, Technip Energies and Técnicas Reunidas.

The Resource Centre also reached out to invite the UK Export Finance agency which has provided insurance for the Bapco Modernisation Programme to respond to two questions regarding the report: 1. Please describe what actions UK Export Finance has taken since news of the protests to ensure worker standards on the Bapco Modernisation project are upheld; and 2. Please describe the human rights due diligence steps you undertook prior to providing UKEF support and the salient human rights risks identified. Their statement can be read in full below.

On 11th November, Migrant-Rights.org issued a rejoinder to the statements from the companies and the UKEF.

Company Responses

Técnicas Reunidas View Response
Bahrain Petroleum Co (BAPCO) View Response
Samsung Engineering View Response
Technip Energies View Response
Nasser S. Al-Hajri Corporation (NSH) View Response