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Monday, April 4, 2016

Migrants get little help Expatriate workers find labour wings hardly active

Belal Hossain Biplob

Bangladeshi migrant workers often don't get expected services from the labour wings of the country's foreign missions despite the fact that they send home remittance of around $14 billion a year.
In most cases, officials and staffs at the wings are unresponsive to the needs of the workers abroad, a number of migrant workers and rights activists told The Daily Star yesterday.
The government is spending crores of taka from migrant welfare funds to meet the expenses of these officials and staffs, many of whom don't perform their duties properly, they alleged. 
Besides, migrant workers sometimes lose their jobs and even face deportation from different countries for lack of coordination among officials, according to them.
The expatriate workers portrayed a sorry state of migrant workers abroad, as Bangladesh like all other countries around the world observed the International Migrants Day yesterday.
“We face difficulties in getting wages regularly and medical services at our workplaces. When we inform officials [at labour wings] about it, many of them don't take these issues seriously,” said Md Shahjahan, a migrant worker at a manufacturing plant in Malaysia.
Besides, the officials sometimes make delay in providing services such as issuing passports or travel permits, he told this correspondent.
Ambia Khatun, who works in Oman, said she has been requesting the labour wing officials there to help her switch her current job. But she is yet to get any help from them.
Migration experts say many officials at the labour offices abroad are not well trained or motivated to solve the problems of migrant workers.
“Our government and officials always show excuses for failing to provide services to migrants. But the fact is that the officials are not sincere in serving the migrants,” said Shipa Hafiza, director (gender, justice, diversity and migration) of Brac.
If migrant workers face any crisis in the destination countries, many staffs at the labour offices there don't help them, she observed.
Syed Saiful Haque, chairman of Warbe Development Foundation, said female migrants are the worst sufferers in the destination countries, but the government officials rarely approach them.
It is essential to appoint more female staffs at labour wings abroad. This will help female migrants get quick services if they face any problem, he said.
Bangladeshi Ovibashi Mohila Sramik Association Director Sumaiya Islam alleged that many officials don't try to understand the workers' problems while some others misbehave with them.
“They [officials] apparently forget that their expenses are met with the hard-earned money of these migrants,” she said.
However, officials at the labour wings abroad refuted the allegations.
“We face difficulties regarding undocumented migrant workers. But we try to help them in every way we can. We issue travel permits for them and also give them legal help,” said Sayedul Islam, labour counsellor at Bangladesh High Commission in Kuala Lumpur.
Contacted, Expatriates' Welfare Minister Nurul Islam said they have been increasing manpower at the labour offices abroad to give migrants better service.
“We have sent officials to serve the migrants, not to exploit them. If anybody complains to us that an official is not providing services, we will take action against the official,” he told this correspondent last night.
Meanwhile, many government and non-government organisations held a wide range of programmes -- from rallies to seminars -- to mark the International Migrants Day.
The expatriates' welfare and overseas employment ministry organised a day-long programme at Bangabandhu International Conference Centre in the capital.
Brac, the world's largest development organisation, was given a special honour there for its mass awareness campaign on safe migration.

LGRD Minister Khandker Mosharraf Hossain, Expatriates' Welfare Minister Nurul Islam and State Minister for Foreign Affairs Shahriar Alam, among others, were present.

Source:  The Daily Star, 19 December 2015

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