Bahrain clamps down on illegal workers
Manama, January 17, 2013
New rules could be introduced to clamp down on rogue companies who knowingly employ illegal workers in Bahrain, a top official at the LMRA said.
The pledge came from Labour Market Regularity Authority chief executive officer Ausamah Al Absi after he met Bangladeshi Ambassador Muhammad Ali Akbar yesterday, our sister newspaper, the Gulf Daily News reported.
Thirteen Bangladeshis died during Friday's labour camp fire, which left more than 120 homeless.
It is thought a gas pipe leak could have triggered the massive fire, which caused the roof of the three-storey building to collapse.
"We want to emphasise the protection of all the workers," said Al Absi. "This is a major incident that Bahrain has faced and we are closely working with other authorities to stop it from happening in future."
The LMRA is also considering starting a welfare fund to assist workers in distress by charging BD1 ($2.66) from employers when they come to renewing the visas of staff every two years.
"When we told Al Absi how we are facing problems in repatriating the bodies as we have to pay the expenses, he suggested asking employers to pay BD1 extra when they come for visa renewal," said Bangladesh Embassy first secretary Muhammad Islam, who attended the meeting.
"They do 70,000 renewals and if all the employers pay this extra money, they can save this money to help the affected workers. It can help the concerned embassies in repatriation or help the injured."
Islam said a range of key issues were highlighted during the meeting with Al Absi. "We discussed points on how to improve the situation regarding runaway workers."
"Absi suggested that we bring workers through agencies in Bahrain, which can save them from falling for free visa and being reported as runaways.”
"But Bangladeshis prefer buying free visas as it is convenient for them and allows them to work outside the company and earn extra money."
Al Absi said runaway workers were often forced to pay huge amounts of money to their sponsors to legalise their status.
"They come here with high hopes and after a third party promises them good wages and living conditions, but their dreams are dashed once they get salaries as less as BD60.”
"We will contact the Bangladesh Overseas Employment and Services Limited agency and find some way to bring workers through them.”
"We send workers to South Korea and Singapore through this agency and can probably bring them to Bahrain after signing an agreement. We are now preparing reports which will be sent to our government for further advice," he concluded. – TradeArabia News Service