GDN: PARLIAMENT has demanded a massive overhaul of Bahrain's labour market watchdog, accusing senior officials of widespread nepotism and corruption. MPs also accused top management of orchestrating a campaign of hatred against the government, despite pocketing thousands of dinars a month in salaries.
In addition, they claimed millions of dinars were being squandered on over-the-top salaries, benefits, incentives, trips and staff training.
They made the allegations about the Labour Market Regulatory Authority (LMRA) yesterday, during their final meeting before parliament's five-month summer recess.
Discussions focused on the alleged activities of LMRA staff during anti-government protests, as well as claims of accelerated promotions, cover-ups, financial mismanagement and complaints that the board had not met for 18 months.
The allegations were made as a parliamentary probe committee set up to investigate the LMRA presented its findings to parliament, along with a list of recommendations for the government.
They included claims that some staff got up to four pay rises a year while others got pay rises of 50 per cent to 100pc, as well as allegations that the LMRA had not declared its finances to the Financial Audit Bureau in four years.
Probe committee chairman MP Dr Ali Ahmed said the LMRA had descended into "corruption chaos" during the tenure of former Labour Minister and LMRA chairman Dr Majeed Al Alawi.
"No-one knows who was running the LMRA," he told parliament.
"It seems Dr Al Alawi was running things personally with former chief executive officer Ali Radhi and this shows the corruption chaos this establishment is in.
"If there was clear monitoring of employees, then they wouldn't have run a campaign against the leadership through their Facebook pages that didn't stop during the unrest or even after it.
"One of them is a director who threw insults at the Premier and encouraged civil disobedience. Another is a supervisor, a relative of Dr Al Alawi, who has posted foul language against the ruling family and was keen to topple the regime."
He said that another employee tasked with representing the LMRA abroad had been posting false information about what was happening in Bahrain.
"We have another director who has worked to cover up administrative corruption in the LMRA and helped violators escape punishment," said Dr Ahmed.
"Under him an employee was made director in record time, another became a director in less than a year and an inspector with a secondary school certificate was appointed as inspection director - despite being unqualified for his regular duties."
He told MPs that many LMRA staff involved in anti-government activities were in well-paid jobs.
"Someone receives around BD3,000 a month, while others are in the range of BD1,500 and the lowest earner running a campaign against the leadership is earning BD800," he said.
"One employee has even admitted on record to the committee that the former CEO agreed to cover up for protesting employees - giving them annual leave during their participation in demonstrations and rallies against the regime.
"The biggest issue that the government has to look is the nationality of the consultant, who is Iranian, and receives around BD6,000 a month for his 'super ideas'."
Meanwhile, probe committee member Shaikh Jassim Al Saeedi claimed the LMRA was being run by a corrupt network of families.
"We have evidence that the LMRA is beyond repair and has to be reborn from scratch, considering that corruption is ingrained from the highest posts to the bottom," he said.
"One of those is the human resources and administrative affairs director, who is the main man behind the networks - besides having three of his female relatives employed in the LMRA.
"That doesn't leave Mr Radhi out, with him being the mastermind behind everything going on with his sidekicks being five female relatives."
Shaikh Al Saeedi claimed four directors were implicated in "corruption" at the LMRA.
"They are the customer service, inspection, information and communication, and policy development directors, all involved in the corruption status at different levels," he said.
He added senior officials involved included superintendents and supervisors with a strong agenda against Bahrain's leadership.
"We have the operations monitoring superintendent and the son-in-law of current Labour Minister and LMRA chairman Jameel Humaidan, who is the inspection supervisor, who have thrown insults at the leadership within the establishment," said Shaikh Al Saeedi.
Meanwhile, fellow committee member Abdulhaleem Murad said most of those mentioned had never been punished and were still in their posts.
"The establishment was run wrongly and the outcome is a bunch of disloyal and incompetent employees, who despite proven evidence are still in their posts with minor deductions from their wages," he said.