Here’s an intriguing story coming out of Bahrain.
Sheikh Rashid bin Abdullah Al Khalifa announced yesterday that following King Hamad’s directives to boost employment in his ministry, the Ministry of the Interior will be hiring an additional 20,000 staff. The official Bahrain News Agency announcement is here.
According to the Labour Market Regulatory Authority there are currently 140,000 Bahrainis currently in employment. So it seems that an additional 14.5% of the workforce will be police or employees of other Ministry of the Interior departments.
Even allowing for the possibility that a number of policemen of other nationalities will be replaced by Bahrainis under the new measure – which would be very sensible given the resentment caused by the presence of non-Bahrainis in the security forces – that would be a pretty significant hike, especially if you consider that the Ministry already employs a number of Bahrainis.
Much as I commend the sentiments expressed by the Minister about the need to protect citizens against sectarian violence, 20,000 new staff is a pretty jaw-dropping figure. If the United Kingdom’s Home Office employed an additional 14.4% of the country’s 30 million workforce, that would mean an additional 4.35 million policemen and supporting civil servants.
Perhaps I am misunderstanding the Minister’s announcement. But if only from a communications perspective, I question whether this is the kind of message that will ease current tensions, especially as it will take some time to recruit and train the additional staff, by which time one would hope that there is a settlement in place that satisfies all parties.