Under the programme declared on April 2 last year, most Bangladeshi workers availed “flexi permit” from Bahrain government’s Labour Market Regulatory Authority (LMRA) to get work opportunity there, said an official at the Bangladesh embassy in Manama.
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Unlike other Arab countries, migrant workers’ situation in Bahrain is comparatively better, considering the authorities allow foreign workers to live and work without any local sponsorship. In contrast, local sponsorship is mandatory under the existing “kafala system” to avail job in countries like Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates.
In Bahrain, to avail such work permit without local sponsor, a foreign worker has to get “flexi permit” after being registered with the LMRA.
Sheikh Mohammed Tauhidul Islam, labour welfare counsellor at the Bangladesh embassy in Manama, said a worker who obtains the permit has to pay a monthly fee of 30 Bahraini Dinar or about Tk 6,700 to the authorities.
Besides, the worker needs to pay a small amount of annual fee to maintain the legal status, he said via a WhatsApp call yesterday.
The amnesty was declared for all undocumented foreign workers living in the Gulf country, he added.
As per the Bahrain government, there were about 65,000 undocumented migrant workers in the Gulf country before the amnesty was announced, said an official at the Bangladesh embassy.
Of them, about 80 percent were Bangladeshi workers, he said.
Wishing not to be named, the official said foreign workers in Bahrain turn undocumented for various reasons. Companies hired workers from Bangladesh and later terminated them in three months, on the ground of lack of skills required, leading the workers to be undocumented, he said.
Besides, there were allegations of “visa trading” against unscrupulous companies, he added.
Labour welfare official Tauhidul said the embassy was working to reopen Bangladesh’s labour market in Bahrain that remained closed at present.
The embassy was also trying to negotiate with Bahrain authorities for the return of Bangladeshi workers who remained stranded at home amid the pandemic, he added.
Bahrain is home to about 150,000 Bangladeshis. About 70 percent of them are low-paid workers in the construction sector. Besides, several thousand Bangladeshis, both male and female, are serving as household workers there, according to the Bangladesh mission in the country.
Recruitment of workers in Bahrain from Bangladesh remained suspended for more than two years.
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