Bangladeshi migrant workers remain deprived in terms of protection from violation of rights, safety and security as most of them do not enjoy trade union rights in the receiving countries.
The government and labour rights groups at home are also found indifferent on protecting rights of the migrant workers abroad.
‘Bangladeshi workers hardly enjoy legal protection when their rights are violated in most of the receiving countries,’ Sramik Karmachari Oikya Parishad coordinator
Wajed-ul Islam Khan said.
Most of the employers in West Asian countries take away passports of the workers for restricting their freedom of movement and choice of job, which, eventually makes
workers vulnerable to tortures and deprivation by employers, he said.
Seven to eight million Bangladeshi people now work in different countries, predominantly in West Asia, South East Asia, Europe and the USA.
Inflows of remittances sent by migrant workers hit a decade high of $12.17 billion in 2011.
Remittances grew 10 percent in 2011 from the previous year. Remittance earnings were below $10 billion between the years 2002 and 2008.
The growth in remittances, the second biggest foreign currency earning
sector after exports, gives a much needed cushion to the government to meet a rising pressure on the country’s balance of payments.
Majority of the Bangladeshs migrant workers are, however, deceived by the recruiting agents in both sending and receiving countries and they go abroad for jobs without
Going abroad for job without any formal legal contract eventually pushed them into exploitations including trafficking, deception, coercion, arbitrary confinement,
illegal detention, deprivation of rights to life and personal security, deprivation of dignity, deprivation of right to work and earn and sexual exploitation.
Migrant workers and members of their families shall have the rights ‘to form associations and trade unions in the State of employment for the promotion and protection
of their economic, social, cultural and other interests,’ the United Nations International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and
Members of Their Families says.
All migrants, ‘regardless of whether they are documented or undocumented’, are entitled to minimum degree of protection in the host countries, it says.
National laws and decisions from higher judiciary in some receiving countries have also bearing effects.
Experts, however, believed that migrant workers’ vulnerability to exploitation corresponds to the level of skills—vocational, language and other relevant skills— and
the risks of exploitations go down with higher level of skills.
Most of the Bangladeshi workers are unskilled. They usually go abroad without any training and orientation, thanks to the faulty recruitment process.
‘It is also a responsibility of the government to make sure that migrant workers get proper training and orientation. It has also some responsibility to protect their
rights in the receiving countries,’ Khan, also the general secretary of Bangladesh Trade Union Centre, said.
The government should raise the issue of violation of UN convention on labour rights with appropriate international forums including the UN.
Bangladesh Institute of Labour Studies assistant executive director Sultan Uddin Ahmed said most of the migrant workers ‘are not members’ of trade unions and labour
organisations in the receiving countries.
‘They are not members of such organisations at home too’.
The rights of migrant workers should be a big issue for all including political parties and others, he said.
The Bangladesh missions, which in most of the cases, are poorly staffed to support its nationals abroad and most of them are not inclined to serve workers, the labour
The embassy officials, in most of the cases, remain busy in providing protocols to visiting ministers, MPS, civil and military bureaucrats and leaders of the ruling
party and its associate organisations, diplomats say.
India, the Philippines and Mexico maintain big missions and a good number of consulates with sufficient staff abroad to support migrant workers in addition to protocol
duties for deserving persons, they said.
State Minister of labour and employment ministry Begum Monnujan Sufian differed with the statement that Bangladeshi workers abroad are neglected in terms of their
rights and security.
‘The workers who go abroad through (government run) BOESEL generally get benefits whatever they were promised,’ she said.
‘Some workers who go abroad through private recruiting agencies suffer at some places. The expatriate welfare ministry is, however, taking care of them,’ she said.
‘I do not think that the (expatriate welfare) ministry is at fault,’ she said. ‘Our ambassadors and labour officers abroad also have responsibilities to take care of
the workers abroad’.
-With New Age input