The government of Bahrain has foot the bill for the repatriation of displaced overseas Filipino workers affected by the closure of about 8,000 establishments in the kingdom, the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) reported on Thursday.
It said the POLO and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) had closely worked with Bahrain’s Labor Market Regulatory Authority (LMRA) for the repatriation of the OFWs at no cost to the Philippine government.
The repatriates are part of the 803 Filipino workers who requested assistance to be sent home. Of this number, 457 were already repatriated since January.
According to the Ministry of Labour and Social Development (MLSD) of the Kingdom of Bahrain, business owners have been struggling mightily through the COVID-19 pandemic forcing 8,800 establishments in the hospitality, events, service, retail, and education sectors to close for good.
This resulted to massive job displacement where OFWs were either forced to resign, experienced erratic work hours, reduced salaries and worse, were temporarily laid off for 3-4 months without any financial support from employers.
According to the LMRA, 97% of those who lost their jobs were expats, prompting migrant workers to make a tough decision to go home for good.
The cooperation between POLO-OWWA and LMRA to repatriate Filipino workers followed a meeting between Labor Attaché Vicente Cabe and Director Shereen Al Saati of the Grievance and Protection Section of LMRA.
Saati has assured assistance to displaced Filipino workers including the settlement of labor-related claims and their repatriation in the face of the refusal of most employers to fulfil their contractual obligations due to the closure of their businesses.
Saati also committed to assist the OFWs in running after errant employers to face up to their responsibilities to the workers and their safe return to the country.
LMRA is processing an initial 111 workers requiring plane tickets but whose claims were already settled by their employers.