Goodbye, middlemen

Dhaka, KL agree on state handling of workers’ job in Malaysia
Dhaka and Kuala Lumpur have agreed on state arrangements for recruitment of Bangladeshi workers by Malaysia eliminating middlemen from the process to reduce the cost of sending workers and end their perennial abuses.
“Malaysia is very concerned about human trafficking. It wants to improve this situation,” Expatriates’ Welfare and Overseas Employment Minister Khandker Mosharraf Hossain told journalists yesterday on his return from a four-day visit to Malaysia.
The minister was briefing the media at his office about his talks with the Malaysian authorities. He led a four-member delegation.
In Putrajaya, the delegation held meetings with Malaysia’s Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishamuddin Hussein and Human Resources Minister Datuk Seri S Subramaniam.
The visit took place at a time when Malaysia is set to recruit workers from Bangladesh after completing regularisation of irregular foreign workers under its amnesty programme that began in August last year.
Around four lakh Bangladeshi workers are now in Malaysia, which froze recruitment from Bangladesh in early 2009 following numerous cases of exploitation of workers in 2007 and 2008. Many were jobless and stranded while many others suffered much more and returned home empty-handed.
Mosharraf said Kuala Lumpur now wants a fully transparent recruitment process. “The Malaysian home minister clearly said it is the brokers both in Bangladesh and Malaysia who are creating problems. They are embarrassed at it.”
At the meetings, Mosharraf pointed out the abusive practices of the recruiting agencies and brokers. He mentioned that Bangladesh has online database of overseas jobseekers, and the Malaysian authorities could allow direct recruitment of these registered jobseekers by their employers.
“Those registering first would be recruited first. Thus, the middlemen could be eliminated,” he said.
Bangladesh Overseas Employment Services Limited (BOESL) and the Bureau of Manpower Employment and Training (BMET) will conduct the recruitment process. Presently, Bangladesh sends workers to South Korea under government arrangements.
The minister said a Malaysian delegation will visit Bangladesh within a week or two to see the systems it has. Later, the Malaysian cabinet will scrutinise and finalise the recruitment process.
Recruitment from Bangladesh could start in two months or more, but it is sure that Malaysia would go for it. Under state arrangements, the cost of sending workers to Malaysia would not be more than Tk 50,000 each.
However, if any employer bears the air fare, the cost would be limited to Tk 30,000-35,000. In 2007-08, the cost was around Tk 2 lakh per head although the government-fixed rate was Tk 84,000.
Asked how he would handle the recruiting agencies who could create pressure on the government to allow them to send workers, he said “I will not backtrack. I am firm this time.”
He, however, said once the recruitment process is streamlined and workers can go at a low cost, private sector will take over.
“The government does not want to do business, but at the same time it cannot sit idle if the private agencies and brokers create troubles for the workers,” Mosharraf said.

-With The Daily Star input

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