MANILA – The Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) are closely coordinating with Bahrain’s Labor Market Regulatory Authority (LMRA) for the repatriation of close to 350 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who were displaced by the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic.
In a news release, the POLO said the return of the 346 Filipino workers to the Philippines will be shouldered by the host country.
The repatriates are part of the 803 OFWs who requested assistance to be sent home. Of this number, 457 were already repatriated since January.
The cooperation between the two countries to repatriate the OFWs was initiated after a meeting between Labor Attaché Vicente Cabe and Director Shereen Al Saati of the Grievance and Protection Section of LMRA.
According to the POLO, the LMRA official 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 fulfill their contractual obligations due to the closure of their businesses.
It added that the Bahrain official committed to assisting the OFWs in running after errant employers to face up to their responsibilities to the workers and their safe return to the country.
The LMRA is processing an initial 111 workers requiring pane tickets but whose claims were already settled by their employers.
Bahrain’s Ministry of Labor and Social Development (MLSD) reported that business owners have been struggling because of the pandemic forcing 8,800 establishments in the hospitality, events, service, retail, and education sectors to close for good.
It resulted in massive job displacement where OFWs were either forced to resign, experienced erratic work hours, reduced salaries and were temporarily laid off for three to four months without any financial support from employers.
On the other hand, the LMRA said 97 percent of those who lost their jobs were expatriates, prompting migrant workers to decide to go home for good. (PR)