Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Rioting in Bahrain

Yesterday we had lunch out and while eating we started talking to one of the guys working at the restaurant. He knew we had been on vacation and asked about that, and then the conversation turned to all the demonstrations, rioting and car burnings that have been happening as of late here on this "peaceful" island.

He immediately said that it's all the unemployed and I said, "oh, that's an excuse". I believe it to be ... how can such be happening over unemployment?? I think it started out like that but is it really about that now?? Why would so many ppl expect the govt to just hand them jobs? Isn't the norm in finding a job first sending your resume/CV, following up and trying to arrange an interview, interviewing for the job, and then possibly/maybe being selected out of a group of no telling how many for that particular job?

For how many months now has the rioting been going on - obviously these ppl aren't getting jobs. Why should anyone just be given a job - just because they're Bahraini they deserve it? How fair is that? And it's not like there aren't jobs available, they just want the cush jobs working for the govt.. right?! So that they really don't have to work. I know because I work for the govt. I see how it is.... I see the way so many ppl abuse the system and the way they are and their working habits. Bahrainis can't get fired, so they pretty much do whatever they want besause who's going to stop them?

I think it's a crock really. No one should be given anything so easily. You should have to pound the pavement, study, get good grades, work and pay your dues because how else can you truly learn about life.

Who are these ppl demanding jobs? What skills do they have? People/Bahraini's want to cry about so many Asians having jobs here and how unfair it is... well, crap, why don't they get out and do these jobs? How many Bahraini's do you see out doing construction? What about working as waiters/waitresses in restaurants? There are so many jobs they could be doing but won't. Why is that? Why don't ppl take on housekeeping jobs? What about babysitting jobs?

I used to work at the Ministry of State which is no longer. I worked there for a year and in that time, I could not believe the stuff that I saw. There I was working my ass off because I'm on contract, an expatriate and could get fired but the Bahrainis.... it's laughable really. One girl that I worked w/, all she did, all day long, was stay on her cell phone. One call after another. If it wasn't her cell, then it was her calling someone from her desk phone. If it wasn't that, then she was sleeping or away from her desk talking to the other girls in the other offices. AND... when the director tried to correct her attitude, she basically went on a rampage and did everything she could to get him fired. How dare he say anything to her was her attitude. She manipulated the Minister by crying and carrying on and he believed her which made me wonder if they were having an affair or something - well, not only for that reason because there were many reasons for me to believe that... but.. that's another story.

When I first started working there, they treated me like crap. They wouldn't even tell me how to send out mail or where to put the mail for the post office. Coming from the States, all formats, paper sizes and such were new to me because everything is different here. No one would explain anything to me. They all did it on purpose just to cause problems, I later realized. They did the same thing to the girl that had worked there before me - she was British but I heard she was an idiot. They could NOT stand the fact that I was an American and, basically, how dare I work for the govt. It's not like I didn't interview and prove myself in order to get the job. I guess it was because I made more money than all of them... but hey... I was more qualified than any of them, have a college degree and I worked my ass off - working many hours of overtime, weekends, and I didn't get paid one filthy fils for it.

I get so sick of this give me, give me attitude.... some ppl are way too pampered here. I know this blog may piss some ppl off, but really, I'm just sick of the whiney attitudes from so many here. Even w/ my current job, it's soooo aggravating how petty ppl can be. Here, Bahrainis complain about everything... I hear it every day... but Lord forbid I question anything. I feel like screaming, yelling and running from this place.... and this is my first day back from being gone for a month... how glorious!


chanad said...

You're quite right that this recent violence has little to do with unemployment. However, why is no one trying to understand what the real causes of this violence are then? We seem to be content thinking that firing rubber bullets and arresting the thugs will solve the problem.

This is a real social problem that most of Bahrain is turning a blid eye to, hoping it will just disappear by itself... but it is only going to get worse if we think that the riot police alone can fix the situation.

For some reason, many people here seem to think that trying understand the social causes of the rioting somehow implies a justification of the thugs' actions -- it is not.

Anonymous said...

Yes there are many jobs, but have you ever wondered what wages are like here for the Bahrainies and if they are enough for them to live a decent life?! I don’t think so, because I you knew that on average no one of these guys will ever get paid more than BD. 150/month you wouldn’t say what you have. How would somebody live with so little in Bahrain? You must know how much it cost to rent a small apartment, transport and food. Do you think this is enough?!

Education?! My wife got her degree two years ago and she’s still looking for a job and I believe she will have to wait another 10 years or so. I wonder why you could a get that decent job in the ministry and she couldn’t! Do you have a degree in some very specialized field that none of these unemployed Bahrainis have?! Or is it because of some connections your husband has or maybe because you have the right color and nationality.

Mahmood Al-Yousif said...

oooooh BOY! You opened the floodgates with this one, and judging by the two previous comments, you must have come to realise how polarised this specific question is.

Unfortunately, this is a very thorny question that has many facets; the government has been trying to bridge this gap for years, and for years the society has been trying to too but unfortunately there is something in the middle that is doing nothing but politicising the issue to the extreme for their own motives.

What is happening now - in my humble opinion - is that this generation that we have today looking for jobs are mostly the children of the 80s and 90s, the strife years of killings, imprisonment and destitution. They didn't have a chance to even finish school and if they did, that was a major achievement in that kind of atmosphere.

I wish I can stand up here and say that I've got the solution. I doubt anyone can.

What you say is absolutely true and correct. You worked hard on yourself, got your education and ended up with a very strong work ethic that make you a very desirable employee (no pun intended!) and an asset to any business. This work ethic or at least the supposition of its abundant availability in "foreigners" also helps in securing jobs.

The gentleman anonymous' wife who has had her degree (in what please?) and couldn't get a job and is genuinely aggrieved by it, is a position that I can sympathise with to some extent - not knowing all the facts, but I would want to think that if the lady in question genuinely wanted a job, and having had a university education, I would have thought she could have landed the job that she is most attuned to. Why she couldn't get that job though is another matter.

As to the low wages customarily paid to Bahrainis; what qualifications do they have to compete in the workspace in the first place to make them worthy of getting more? Having a familial poverty line of BD336.8 does not automatically guarantee that any and every job a Bahraini would be employed at would cover that base line, nor it should! If the guy has just got out with an intermediate certificate, he is worthless for any position in the job market today other than a driver, but as there are a number of secondary school certificate holders who are available for the job, why should I as an employer even bother with the previous person?

No, the issue is not the unavailability of jobs, it is politicising every single thing in this country and the amassing of ranks against the government at every opportunity using these so available cannon-fodder; so what if they fall dead? so what if they get imprisoned? so what if they never complete their education? The ultimate reason of course is to embarrass the government at worst, and topple it at best.

The work ethic of tooners makes her more than valuable, in fact probably more valuable than 20 indigenous Bahraini ladies as that she has described in her article.

I am sure you will agree with me in this.

tooners said...

Anon - yeah, I know the wages are low but sometimes you have to do what you have to do. If that means taking a low paying job or two of them for that matter, then you have to suck it up to do it. And no, my husband did not get me my job. He did find out that this consulting firm/search company (which I recommend your wife contacting - I can give you the name) was interviewing for a govt job. He gave me the number. I called the company, set up the interview, went in, took the tests, then I interviewed w/ the Minister on my own. I answered his questions and he hired me. It WAS NOT, and I repeat, was not an easy job. He was hell to work for... and I also had to do a lot of work for the Prime Minister. It was not easy and I cried so many days for having to go to work, but I can not be w/out a job. I don't like my current job, which is for the govt, but right now, I can not quit. I don't like working for the govt... I hate the politics and all that is associated w/ working for the govt... I don't understand WHY so many ppl want to work for in this environment.. I guess because it's easy for them. My job right now is easy but I don't like it. That's a lot of why I don't like it and many other things.. one big one, being American and no one else is. It's not as easy as one might think. Who knows if they hired me because of my skin color, I would hope not. I was rejected so MANY times by other companies because of my age and because as soon as they found out I was American, they wanted nothing to do w/ me. I feel lucky to have a job really, but that doesn't mean I like it. I know it's tough and really, all of life is tough, and sometimes you just have to suck it up and do what you don't want to do... your wife included. My husband makes less than me and I don't think it's fair - he's way smarter than me! ;) Seriously, he is - but that's one reason I hate govt stuff... I don't think anything that happens here is fair, on so many different levels. And yes, I know how difficult it is to live on a small amt of money, it's practically impossible, especially if you have children. I haven't taken a job away from a Bahraini, they made this job for me in my current job. Many ppl were angry over this and I see this in ppl every day almost but I also feel that I shouldn't be penalized for the fact that I am an American or an expatriate. The jobs should go to the most qualified person - plain and simple. That is what drives ppl. If there is none of that, then what is the sense of even studying and pushing oneself to achieve more in life? I come from a different background and have different views than many, but I do understand what you say.

Anonymous said...

Well, she has a degree in English literature and educational technology with 3.25 GPA.

She is welling to do anything as far as it's decent and pays. I just can't understand how a foreigner who doesn't have clue of what he/she is talking about jump to a conclusion and start criticizing us and it really pisses me off when they claim that we don’t work as they do and we are not qualified as they are.

Wake up, we are people too and for your surprise with brains as well and can do what you do and perhaps much more it is just that we are not the right color and we don’t have contacts.

I wonder why you deserve a housing allowance, schooling allowance and transport allowance and Bahrainis don’t and what kind of superior education you have that made you so desirable and indispensable as you are now and why would it be impossible for Bahrainis to have it.

My wife applied thousand of times to the education ministry (as an example only as she has applied to almost every single company, bank and school in this f*king country) and they will always say there are no vacancies though they are recruiting 10s of Arab teachers from Egypt, Tunis and Jordan every year!

It is easy for you to write speeches criticizing Bahraini employees and generalizing like idiots and making yourself the only perfect employee and it’s even easier to claim that all these unemployed are group of uneducated politicized thugs but though the majority are of them are no educated there are many who are and yet they can’t find a decent job while

tooners said...

Mahmood, I knew some ppl would get angry, but you know.. I just decided to say it. Today was an exhausting day at work, not because I had a lot of work but because of the attitudes of some ppl. I get so sick of it. Team effort - there is none in govt - it's all about if you're Sunni or Shi'a usually, and w/ me, I'm a complete outsider. I feel for the Asians, I'm right there w/ them. It's weird to be on this side of the fence, but a good learning experience.

I knew that ppl were killed in the 80s and 90s, but I didn't realize how far it all went. I dont know that much detail about it all really.

Yes, I also believe that ppl are trying to topple the govt here. Even a Member told me the same a month or so ago.

I agree w/ you and Chanad. You guys are both way smarter than me when it comes to this stuff... I don't even know how to comment on a lot of what you both said.

I know that I see a lot, and the things I saw at the Ministry of State aren't happening to such degrees at the Council, but still - there are so many other things that it makes your head swim.

I welcome all comments - good and bad. But I'll tell ya, I still will feel the same.

tooners said...

Anon - I do have a clue. I work in this environment - I see what is taking place on a daily basis, all day long.

I'm sorry if you're so pissed that I have a job, but you know what, I also feel that I have a right to have a job. If I'm qualified, have the experience, and my only fault is that I'm not a Bahraini, that shouldn't keep me from getting a job.

I can't help that they bring all these ppl in to teach. I also taught when I first came here and I don't even have a freakin teaching degree. Do I agree w/ that, NO! That's why I stopped - I wasn't qualified to do it. I see ppl turned down daily, and I see a TON of ppl being hired because of who they knew. Soooo many ppl, where I work, are hired based on WHO THEY KNOW. I do not agree w/ this is no way, shape or form.

Yeah, I got my job because my ex-boss is friends w/ who I currently work for, but I also worked hard, and proved myself over and over again at the Ministry of State. I deserve to have a good job, like many other ppl.

I am NOT putting you down or saying you are an idiot or that most Bahrainis are, and I do not feel that I am better. I am just stating facts, and I know what I see and how Bahrainis are in the govt jobs. Not all, but many, many, many. I just get sick of seeing it and hearing all the whining when there are jobs out there but ppl refuse to take them.

I don't feel that it's fair and these ppl should lose their jobs if they aren't qualified or aren't working hard, that's how I feel about it. If you're not working or don't want to work, then you should be fired. And then, another person who is willing to work or even better qualified can take that job.

Things aren't fair - life isn't fair.

I disagree w/ the way the govt does things, but lil ole me can't change anything. I can bitch and moan about things and that's what I'm doing. I have that right, at this present time.. maybe not later, but now, I do.

tooners said...

Anon - By the way, I don't think I get all of those allowances you are talking about. I get a basic salary, no overtime pay, nothing. Maybe it's some type of package thing, but I'm not certain.

Also, sometimes it's better to go into a particular field so that you can make more money. Education isn't a good field - too many ppl in that field. English Lit, well, she's caught there as well. She should have thought about that beforehand. Not to be rude, but it's true. Maybe she should go and get another degree or get addt'l training.

tooners said...

Chanad - please give me more info on the justification behind the actions. I think it's to overthrow the govt, first and foremost. I've heard stories about what's happened over the years and ppl are sick of it. But ... why use unemployment as the cause like so many ppl are doing?

student said...

Tooners you hit the nail on it's head! thank you for a brilliant post!

As for unemployment... goodness gracious -- there's loads of jobs in Bahrain.. so many that are not advertised int eh news papers.. you just gotta' take time to loookout and push forward. I'ts all about hard work really!

I'm going to graduate this year.. somewhere in the mid, and there are 2 things that are really pissing me off, much that I really hear what young Bahrainis are going through when it comes to poor wages.

1) 'm college educated, 5 years of doing 2-3 part-time jobs plus studying... at the end of it all I want to get a job, earn something reasonable so that I can re-invest into what I've spent for my education.

Sorry! but who can live on wages less than 500 dinars? Let's do the math here for a single person:

approx (BD):

150-180 for accomodation
60 for phone/internet bills
80-100 for food/health expenses
100 put away as savings

what are you left with? about 60 dinars? given that the above calculation is just looking at basic expenses.. nothing cuchy, mind you.

2) migrant workers! they're not to blame.. but it's to do with the damnn mentality that's settled in here.. so what if i'm having brown or black skin or even yellow for that matter.. maybe my passport is asian or east european, that doesn't give any firm the right to pay me less....

let's take tradearabia or Al Hilal for example, they don't confiscate passports like most companies do, but you know how they pay? based on what kind of passport you have -- why.. they say it's the british system! TOTAL BS!

3) still on migrant workers.. sadly there's this system of sticking in Bahrain for lower wages = peanuts.. seriously the market has crashed because of this! I graduate from college, my qualifications, experience and skills should equate to roughly about 550-600 dinars basic (as other folks) and plus fringe benefits but no... someone else with half-baked skills gets the job - why? they've accepted to work for a lower wage!!!

something really needs to be done about this.. either take a stand against not working for lower wages.. ie. some Bahrainis don't wanna' do the job or invest in training the locals/sponsoring them for higher education, etc.

This problem really needs to stop.. it's so frustating when you're out there... im not a bahraini, not even an arab for that matter... born here.. grew up all my life here.. got my education overseas cos as the tinme there were no unis in bahrain... but you know what really stings?

people not getting what they really deserve..

on one hand there's this mentality that bahrainis are lazy people and so don't employ them.. i say that's total crap, on the other hand you have this fucked up mentality that asians/east europeans are slaves u can pay them whatever and they'll be faithful dogs -- my a$$

just how can firms paint everyone with the same brush? major problem in bahrain... but then these are just some firms.. most of the new ones transferring operations here respect the rights..of folks...

again u'd see that i'ts more of an older generation that's screwing it up along with those folks who stay in bahrain for peanuts... screwing it up for everyone...

Oh yes./.. rioting is not going to get anyone anywhere.. unlike before the MOI are talking about this in the open... and believe you me, these folks behind the hate crimes are going to get dealt with however the law's are designed in here.. no more police supression.. everything's going to be transparent, transparency on both sides if you will... goons will always be goons though!

migrant workers -- we need more awareness there, I don't want to settle out for peanuts just like most people who aren't going in as waiters or waitresses -- now you know why some bahrainis don't wanna go for that job.. not because they feel they're low jobs... but cos the pay is really bad... no not like the US where they pay you by the hour.. here they pay you each month -- and u'll be really lucky if u even get that plus you do more than what's stated in your job description.

Another peanut wages story is at the GDN... standard fee for an article is between 50-80 dinars ;) there are people willing to fuck it all up and write articles - half baked ones, not reseached well for less than 40 dinars.... major offender in our vicinity is Bahrain This Month who get some of their feature articles written for about 25 dinars plus editing and everything... oh yes that brings us to the second part - employers:

Bahrain this month is owned by UK management - old timers at that, they got used to cheap labor and paltry wages, hence the amount they offer per article... change the old timers, and this will disappear!

Old timers... not just in the publishing business, everywhere in bahrain... they don't tip here either...the market is on the verge of shutting down here..

I bet you that if the foreign workers who come to bahrain just knew how much they'd make plus the bad working conditions they gotta go thru here.. they'll not come! PERIOD, in the Philippines the basic wages is more than what they pay for domestic helpers here.

that's what's also needed - basic wages! what happened to the McKinsey guys by the way?

Ingrid said...

Hi tooners, I stopped by out of curiosity, looking around the blogosphere. Since I lived in the KSA in the early nineties and had the good fortune of 'escaping' to Bahrain for a bit of a breather, I was curious to check out your site. (by way of mahmoud's den so you know). I guess I caught you on a bad day and it was a real eye opener for me to read what is going on in Bahrain. My only reference to the country was, as mentioned, a place to psychologically relax after being in Saudi for a while. I hope that this blog can take the edge of your bad work environment. You do have a good work ethic by the sound of it and like you said, you do what you need to do. I hope that you can still find something to brighten up your life because with work taking up so much time, it's easy to get totally down on things. All the best,

Alfanan said...

I too am fed up with the way Bahrainies are in govt jobs.

I can tell you from a personal experience that things are crazy in our office. The bureaucracy is just ridiculous, and the way Shi'as and Sunies are treated is clearly distinguished. Where I work, I know for a fact that they hire a certain percentage of shia's every few months, just to keep things "politically correct". I honestly have noticed that a lot of the shia's, not all of them, but a lot of them, are hard workers. Yes, you do get the ones that do nothing but complain, and demand to just have it all without lifting a finger. But for the most part, I think that shia's, particularly the more educated ones, are hard workers.

Student, I think it's pretty darn good that you're putting down that you take out B.D. 100 for savings. Most people can't even afford to set aside B.D. 50, and that's really sad. It's sad when you see a country where people are struggling to get by, or to reach their personal goals in life.

tooners said...

Student - I don't think it's possible to live below BD500. Groceries alone kill ya if you're feeding more than one.

I think your figures for accommodation are a little low... unless you get a good deal on a flat some place. When I first came here, I had a one bedroom efficiency in Adliya and it was BD240, and it had hardly anything really, but it was only me and it was fine.

We also pay more for phone/internet... more like BD80, I think, if we're careful not to make too many long distance calls. But hey, we have Skype now for int'l and it's great.

BD100 away for savings... don't stop doing that! You'll be glad for it years from now. It's great that you're putting away money.

You seem really motivated and that's great to hear. Good luck to you in finding a job.

I agree w/ you, I don't companies should pay you based upon what passport you have. That's completely unfair. I think a minimum wage system should be set up for everyone. Hopefully, one day, something like that will be done.

Ingrid - thank you for your kindness. I appreciate it. Also, thanks for reading my blog.

Alfanan - hi! Glad you could stop by...

Anonymous said...

first of all, i am a new anony.
Tooners.. let me thank you for your post, you were right in many things you mentioned.