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Volume :12 Issue : 48 1986      Add To Cart                                                                    Download

THE EMPLOYMENT POLICY IN THE OIL COMPANIES OF THE ARABIAN GULF COUNTRIES

Auther : By: Dr. Baquer S. Al-Najjar

 

         This paper examines the phenomenon of labour migration to the Arabian Gulf during the first half of the twentieth century. Contrary to the commonly held opinion that such migration was a new development accompanying the discovery of oil from the 1930’s, this paper traces such migration to the turn of the century and shows that many Gulf societies were established as a result of migrations from Arabia, Persia and East Africa.  Labour movements from South Persia, Africa and in some cases from India and Baluchistan also had an impact on the lower strata of the pearl industry. 

         The discovery of oil from the 1930’s enabled the Gulf Sheikhdoms to finance modern social and economic programmes; at the same time, however, it exposed the whole society to directly contact with European and Asian cultures.  Labour from both Europe and Asia (India and Persia) was employed in the oil fields.  The European labour element, although fewer in number, was the most powerful group in the oil industry with a much higher standard of living.  Indian labour, constituting the bulk of skilled and semi-skilled employees was paid only half that of the Europeans.  Moreover, their living conditions were very poor in contrast to European workers and they held a subservient rile.  For the first time in the area, this situation led to a number of strikes led by Indians.

         The paper also identifies a third group of workers, the local labour who were even worse off than the Indians.  They were employed through local agents who pocketed more than half of their salaries and left them without any legal protection vis-à-vis the oil companies.  Finally, the actual role of the oil companies is examined, including not only their economic activities but also their political impact on the Gulf societies.

 

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