Bahrain blaze firm in new row

Royal Tower Construction faces fresh allegations as workers down tools for the second time after fire

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By  Conrad Egbert Published  September 9, 2006

The contractor that employed 16 Indian workers who died when a fire broke out in their Manama labour camp in July, was again at the centre of controversy this week. Bahraini construction firm, Royal Tower Construction faced allegations that it attempted to abduct some of its workers who have refused to return to work following the blaze. John Iype, general secretary, Co-ordination Committee of Indian Associations in Bahrain, said: “This is the second attempt to abduct workers working for the company. “We got a call from some other worried workers who told us to come to the camp. We got there along with officials from the Indian Embassy and managed to foil the abduction just in time.” On 30 July, 16 Indian workers were killed in a blaze that broke out at their Gudaibiya labour camp, prompting about 200 of the survivors to down tools until living conditions were improved and their pay was increased. “The company’s plan was to take two or three workers into custody and force others to go back to work,” said Iype. The Royal Tower Construction workers have said that the firm has not yet fulfilled its promise to pay their outstanding salaries. The workers did not report to work until 22 August after a deal was brokered during a meeting between labour minister Majeed Al Alawi and Indian ambassador Balkrishna Shetty. And they stayed away from work for two days last week after the company tried to forcibly deport two workers, but returned to work after the embassy intervened. “Last week, the embassy stopped the employer’s attempt to deport two workers without paying their dues. The matter has been taken up by the embassy with the authorities. We are now in a state of confusion on the fate of these workers.” Royal Tower Construction was unavailable for comment.

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