A UNION chief yesterday accused people of treating expat workers like "animals" by cramming them into overcrowded accommodation.
It follows the deaths of 10 men who suffocated in a fire at a makeshift labour camp on Sunday, believed to have been sparked by a short-circuit.
General Federation of Bahrain Trade Unions (GFBTU) deputy secretary-general Ibrahim Hamad said the conditions in which the Bangladeshi victims were living were inhumane, but not uncommon.
He added the fact that the men were illegal residents did not mean it was acceptable for them to be housed in such a property.
"The Municipalities and Urban Planning Affairs Ministry has a role in monitoring those homes and ensuring that they are not being used as accommodation for poor bachelor expatriates, whether rightfully working or on free visas (that they buy on the black market)," said Mr Hamad.
"There is no reason to treat free-visa workers as animals just because they are runaways and forcing them to live in homes that lack the basic standards of health and safety by those offering them shelter is wrong because they are endangering their lives.
"Just a few days ago Bahrain hosted the Vocational Health and Safety Conference under the patronage of the Arab Labour Organisation (ALO), in which the kingdom stressed it was committed to providing expatriate labourers with the best housing facilities and this incident in which 10 helpless souls have been lost reflects the opposite."
He claimed a lack of proper legislation barring the use of unsuitable properties to accommodate such workers was a major problem and called for new laws and more inspections to address the issue.
"Unfortunately, expatriate labourers are still being transported in uncovered six-wheelers, work more than the average hours and are still living in old homes without ventilation and other safety standards," said Mr Hamad.
"We acknowledge that there is a shortage in the numbers of health and safety inspectors in the Labour, and Municipalities and Urban Planning Affairs ministries, but they have to be increased immediately.
"There are hundreds of workplaces and accommodations that need immediate inspections to ensure they are fit to live in, because any future incident would further harm our expatriate labourers and will have more souls lost unnecessarily.
"The federation will continue mounting pressure on those concerned to come up with legislation and activate existing laws for the sake of better working and living environment for expatriates, who are also workers and come under our responsibility."
The 10 workers were living in two rooms of a property in East Riffa and suffocated after fire broke out near the entrance.
Public Security chief Major-General Tariq Al Hassan described the accommodation as a "cage" after visiting the scene.
The 10 men identified were Sayed Ahmed Abdul Jalil Munshi, 42, Mohammad Hanif, 48, Monir Hossain, 35, Siddikur Rahman, 25, Khorshed Alam, 40, Nurul Islam, 38, Abu Tahir Abul Ahmed, 45, Abul Hashem, 35, Anwar Hossain, 42 and Soleman Mia, 38.
The embassy is preparing to repatriate the bodies to the Comilla district in Bangladesh once the paperwork is complete.