MANILA, May 21, 2011â€”With the recent arrest of 54 undocumented foreign workers, including some Filipinos, migrant workers’ watchdog Migrante Middle-East (ME) has appealed to the Kingdom of Bahrain to grant amnesty to these workers and let them work in the Kingdom legally, or just let them go home.
Migrante-ME regional coordinator John Leonard Monterona, in an email said, they are yet to determine how many Filipinos were nabbed during the mass arrests conducted by the Bahrain’s Interior Ministry on Nationality, Passport, and Residence Directorate last week, in different parts of the Kingdom.
â€œWe viewed that the on-going crackdown of undocumented migrants is a part of the efforts of the Bahrain authorities to maintain and secure its internal peace and order situation, under its State of National Safety declaration; however we are quite sure that the undocumented, mostly Asian migrant workers, are not part of the anti-government groups,â€ Monterona said.
Aside from the amnesty, the migrant leader also pleaded the Patriarch of Bahrain, Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, to treat the arrested illegal migrants well and ensure that their rights as human beings and as migrant workers, would be upheld all the time.
â€œWe appeal to the kindness of Bahrainâ€™s King Hamad to consider the granting of amnesty for all undocumented and illegal migrants as what its neighboring countries have done few months back,â€ said Monterona.
Meanwhile, hopes are still dim to domestic workers who want to work in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) as the local employers’ association there has not lifted the ban against Filipino workers.
Monterona reported that months after the Saudi government, through its Saudi National Recruitment Committee (SANARCOM) announced the temporary suspension in the hiring of household service workers (HSWs), the signs remains â€œnegative,â€ with regards to the recruitment and hiring of Filipino domestic workers in KSA.
â€œIn spite of the dialogue between the Philippine Labor Department and the SANARCOM, the two has yet to come up with the resolution to settle the $400 minimum wage and other issues, in connection to hiring Filipino domestic workers here,â€ said Monterona in an email sent to this reporter.
â€œWhat the employers are complaining about, besides the salary is, the Philippine Labor Department is asking them to submit other requirements such as a residence location map, opening a bank account for the hired OFW-DH where her salary would be deposited, and an additional compensation of US$100 for every Friday extra work as OFW-DH normally works even during Fridays which is supposed to be their day off. For them (employers), this is too much,â€ Monterona explained.
He also said that based on the information that they’ve gathered, the Saudi government remains firm with its decision to temporarily freeze the hiring of Filipinos as domestic workers in the oil-rich Kingdom.
On the other hand, in order to end the labor problem, the SANARCOM is said to have submitted some proposals to the Philippine Overseas Labor Office in Riyadh, one of which is the establishment of a â€œmega recruitment companyâ€ that will serve as the central agency that will process the necessary requirements of the workers who are planning to work inside the Kingdom.
â€œIn general, the host government is planning to set up a Saudi mega recruitment company that will act as general service company in recruiting and bringing in foreign workers, including housemaids and family drivers, from manpower exporting countries such as the Philippines and Indonesia,â€ Monterona revealed, saying that he got the report from an embassy official who refused to be named as of this writing.
â€œAccordingly, these Saudi-based recruitment companies will be accredited by the various PH labor offices such as the POLO in Riyadh, in Jeddah, and in the Eastern region before it could hire our prospective OFW-DH,â€ Monterona added. (Noel Sales Barcelona)