23,000 expats still on loose in Bahrain
Manama, February 12, 2008
More than 23,000 runaway workers are still on the loose in Bahrain as only 565 of the known 24,000, came forward under the six-month amnesty for illegal workers which ended on January 31, it was revealed.
Police and government officials are already sweeping the country to catch illegal workers - and anyone employing them, said Labour Market Regulatory Authority (LMRA) chief executive Ali Radhi.
He said the Labour Ministry has records of 24,000 workers reported as runaways. "Out of this, only 565 applied for amnesty (and got their status legalised)," he told a press conference at the LMRA headquarters in Sanabis.
"This is a clear warning that workers of this category still exist in the labour market. They have no alternative but to leave the country."
A nationwide crackdown is being launched by the LMRA, working with the Interior, Labour and Industry and Commerce ministries, said Radhi.
He said his team carried out a limited inspection campaign last month, catching 4,611 violators (workers and employers), in 2,044 site visits.
Meanwhile, the minister said 70 per cent of the illegal workers who left Bahrain under the amnesty travelled without passports.
A total of 13,431 people left the country without penalty during the six-month amnesty, said Radhi.
"Seventy per cent of them left without passports, but on travel documents, including outpasses, issued by their respective embassies," he added.
"This is an indication to the size of the problem of sponsors holding the passports of their employees," he said.
Radhi said 61,591 people benefited from the amnesty. Of these, 48,160 legalised their stay. Among them were 33,570 who were transferred from one employer to another and 14,590 whose work permits were renewed.
"This shows that the amnesty was a resounding success," he added. "Most of the workers who legalised their stay belonged to the category of unskilled and marginal workers."
Out of 4,102 applications, 11 per cent were rejected, though normal Bahrainisation criteria were waived to ease the process, Radhi said.
The press conference, called to announce the final results of the amnesty, was attended by General Directorate of Nationality, Passports and Residence (GDNPR) investigation director Lieutenant Colonel Ghazi Ali Sinan, Labour Ministry inspection head Ahmed Al Haiki, Industry and Commerce Ministry commercial registry director Kareem Al Rashid, Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) contractors' committee chairman Samir Nass, and General Federation of Bahrain Trade Unions general secretary Abdul Ghaffar Hussain Abdulla.-TradeArabia News Service