About a month ago I posted a question here, after noticing clothing made in Bahrain at a local Walmart, and being curious if this was another example of Nike-like exploitation. I got the following response from someone in Bahrain - which I've edited slightly for readability. I've also left off the author's name at his (her) request.
member, Am Fed of Govt Emps
"I read your inquiry in the newsgroup regarding the clothing industry and here are my comments:
1. Yes, Bahrain has a clothing industry. Overall, Bahrain has a population of about 520,000 including ~200,000 expatriots. Most of the expatriots are labourers and the ones who are in the clothing industry are mostly women. There are some Bahraini women as well in this industry.
2. Working conditions are very bad. Working conditions are as bad as you can imagine. There are around 15 clothing factories owned by few rich people. Many of these factories are the size of 2 or 3 flats in area.
Work starts at 7 or 7.30 am and continues to 5 or 5.30 pm with 1 or 2 hours break, 6 days aweek. Ladies are usually denied to leave for hospital visits or urgent private activities.
Bahrainis or others are subject to dismissal for any reason. No transport is provided for the expatriots, who live in camps like prisons with no private facilities provided. They are dismissed for suspicion and/or accusation. The problem with the factory owners is that they have very good relations with the authorities in the Ministry of Labour, which makes it very easy for them to overlook the so-called labour rules. Of course there are no trade unions or other labour protection agencies.
3. Wages are worse than working conditions. Almost all the south asians get Bahraini Dinars (BD) 40.000/month and Bahrainis get BD 80.000/month; that is about USD100.00 & 200.00 respectively. I know a Bahraini lady whose salary is usually delayed 3-4 months; that is, she is getting her April pay at the end of July. This is usual in this type of business.
When they complain to the Ministry of Labour they get sacked without reason because the owners have good relations with the officers there in the Ministry.
4. Most of the workforce is South-asian as you may know. South-asian are cheaper than Bahrainis and the factory owners do not have to pay 10% of the salaries to the General Organization for Social Insurance (GOSI)- that is the pension fund. They pay 3% only as insurance against accidents.
Unlike Bahrainis, they pay 5% of their salaries and the factory owner pays double that, i.e. 10% in addition to 3% for insurance (accidents). For a factory owner, expatriots are cheap and he can dismess them at his convenience."