Pay special attention to migrant workers’ problemsAdmin
Experts suggest missions abroad
Labour wings of Bangladesh missions abroad should be more sincere about protecting the existing market and the interests of migrant workers in this declining manpower export situation, economists, national rights watchdog and sector insiders said.
The Centre for Policy Dialogue’s senior research fellow Khandaker Golam Moazzem told New Age on Wednesday that the main challenge for the government was to maintain Bangladesh’s share of the present market.
Declining in the number of Bangladeshis going abroad on jobs, which has fallen to a half in three years, is likely to lower the amount of remittances in the future, they said.
The National Human Rights Commission in such a situation urged the government to take steps so that migrant workers are not harassed abroad.
The commission’s chair Mizanur Rahman recently told New Age that the labour attachés were not doing what they should to protect the interests of migrant workers.
‘It is unfortunate that migrant worker’s requests for help are quite often rebuffed by Bangladesh missions abroad… The government should take steps to stop harassment of migrant workers when they are in trouble for various reasons.’
He said that the commission had found that Bangladesh’s labours attachés in missions abroad remain indifferent when rights of migrant workers are violated or such workers face other problems.
Sakhawat Hossain of Kishorganj who returned from Libya after the political crisis there alleged that the Bangladesh labour officials in the country used avoid receiving allegations by taking bribes from the employers and recruitment agencies.
The Bangladesh Association of International Recruiting Agencies secretary general, Ali Haider Chowdhury, said ‘We should concentrate more on the existing labour markets and explore new ones to check decline in manpower export.’
Statistics available with the expatriates’ welfare and overseas employment ministry say that about 3.9 lakh Bangladeshis were on overseas jobs in 2010 compared with 4.75 lakh in 2009 while the number was 8.75 lakh in 2008 and 8.32 lakh in 2007.
BAIRA’s senior vice-president Reaz-ul-Islam called for coordination among recruiting agents, the ministry concerned and the labours wings in missions abroad to protect the existing Bangladeshis markets and the interests of migrant workers.
Admitting that there are manifold problems with the labour wings, the expatriates’ welfare and overseas employment secretary, Zafar Ahmed Khan, told New Age on Wednesday that all the 14 labour attachés stationed at 12 Bangladeshi missions abroad had been called in Dhaka in February and asked to address the problems of migrant workers against the backdrop of declining manpower export.
‘We also trained them in protecting the interests of migrant workers, and finding ways to optimise the benefits of managed labour migration, including exploration of new labour markets,’ said Zafar Ahmed.
He, however, said that all labour attachés were asked to the increase at least 20 per cent of the existing manpower in respective countries.
More than 71,60,000 documented Bangladeshi migrant workers are now on job outside the country across the world, according to government statistics.
There was a target set for the financial year 2010-11 to send 5,77,000 on job abroad in the year, according to the finance ministry.
But in first eight months of the financial year, 80,924 workers migrated to different countries, mostly Lebanon, the United Arab Emirate, Jordan and Mauritius, the expatriate welfare and overseas employment ministry statistics showed in 2011.
In the budget speech in June 2010, the finance minister, Abul Maal Abdul Muhith, told the parliament that ‘apart from the traditional labour markets, we have started exporting manpower to other countries like Libya, Lebanon, Sudan, and Algeria. Alongside, potential overseas labour markets are being explored by the government.’
The government statistics, however, showed that no visas were issued by the Libyan government in the eight months while two visas were issued by the Sudanese government.
Sources in the manpower sector, however, stressed the need for the government’s diplomatic moves in persuading the Middle East countries to recruit Bangladeshi workers — both old and new — in large numbers.
The foreign minister, Dipu Moni, said in February that as the labour markets, mainly in the Middle East countries, had become diversified, the government was trying to maintain Bangladesh’s share of the markets and mapping the country’s human resources to meet new demands in the existing and future markets.