Sim cards for expat workers in Bahrain
Manama, December 30, 2013
Expat workers arriving in Bahrain from January 1 will be given a free mobile Sim card with BD1 ($2.6) credit, the Labour Market Regulatory Authority (LMRA) announced yesterday.
The scheme, a joint venture between the LMRA and telecommunications company Viva Bahrain, is described as the first of its kind in the world, said a report in the Gulf Daily News (GDN), our sister publication.
It aims to keep new arrivals informed of their rights and responsibilities, give them regular updates on the status of their work visa and provide them with a Bahraini telephone number from the moment they first enter the country.
"The LMRA is going to dispense Sim cards at the airport for all permit-holding expat workers upon their arrival," LMRA chief executive Ausamah Al Absi told a press conference at the organisation's Sanabis headquarters yesterday.
"Through this, we will populate our database with the telephone numbers of those workers, which will enable us to communicate more effectively with them."
The new service will help protect workers' human rights, prevent them from becoming victims of illegal practices and combat human trafficking, Al Absi said.
"We are trying to fight trafficking in a big way and that's one of our major goals for 2014," he added.
"We are trying to combat the situation of illegal workers as well.
"It is in our interest that they approach us and ask 'how can I rectify this' because we have many solutions.
"But they fear us and will not come to us. So maybe this is one of the ways we can tell them 'we are not out to get you' - unless they insist on breaking the law."
Viva chief executive Ulaiyan Al Wetaid said his company was delighted to be involved in the programme.
"Through this unique partnership, Viva will assist the LMRA in easing foreign workers' mobility and support the government in its protection of overseas workers' rights and duties," he said.
Funding for the scheme is coming from Viva's corporate social responsibility programme and the memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed yesterday "is a non-financial agreement that stems from the fact that (Viva) wants to give back to the community and we wanted to avail ourselves of that," Al Absi said.
Since its creation in 2008, the LMRA has launched a call centre hotline (17506065) and SMS information service to keep companies, business owners and expatriate workers up-to-date on the renewal process of their work permits. To date, nearly 124,000 expats have used the SMS service. - TradeArabia News Service