Migration experts, labour rights activists and lawyers on Thursday called for taking immediate steps for strict control of the middlemen or brokers by bringing them under the purview of law.
The middlemen or brokers who remained involved in all stages of recruitment process in Bangladesh, were frequently cheating the migrant workers, they said.
The speakers made their observations while speaking at workshop on ‘Protection of Migrants’ Rights by Effective Arbitration and Legal Process’ held at the conference of the Bureau of Manpower, Employment and Training in the city.
Migrants’ rights organization WARBE Development Foundation hosted the workshop, which were attended by the returnee migrant workers, migrants’ rights activists and senior government officials who were working with the migration sector.
International Labour Organization’s national programme officer Rahnuma Salam Khan presented a keynote paper on ‘Protection of Migrants Rights in the light of Overseas Employment and Migrants Act 2013’ at the workshop.
Speaking at the workshop, BMET director for administration and finance Mohammad Ataur Rahman said that there were so many cases of the country’s female workers facing various problems in the destination countries. Many of the female workers have committed suicides abroad, he said.
Ataur Rahman showing his personal experience in taking class of the outgoing migrants and also dealing the migrants issues, said that the migrant workers who were going abroad in disguise of visit visas, tourist visas or student visas were getting irregular frequently and they were mainly facing untold suffering abroad.
Former labour attaché in Qatar AKM Saiful Islam, who is also director at Bangladesh Association for Social Advancement, said that the migrant workers have been suffering many problems in destination countries as the brokers were sending them showing false dreams.
‘The problems now increase many folded….Lack of awareness is main problems of suffering to migrants,’ he said.
WARBE Development Foundation’s chairman Syed Saiful Haque said that the migrants’ problems remained unsolved over the years due to lack of enforcement of the relevant laws in the country.
Besides, migrant workers’ rights could not be protected abroad as they were being sent abroad without signing bilateral agreement by the government, he observed.
Bangladeshi Ovhibashi Mohila Sramik Association general secretary Sheikh Rumana said that middlemen were sexually abusing many female migrants while they were brought to Dhaka for training and medical test purposes.
‘We want broker free migration from Bangladesh,’ demanded Rumana, also a returnee migrant.
National Domestic Women Workers’ Union general secretary Murshida Akter demanded immediate ratification of the ILO Convention 189 by the government of Bangladesh as the section upheld the domestic workers’ rights including their access to decent jobs, proper wages, health safety and other occupational rights at home and abroad.
Bangladesh Ovibashi Adhikar Forum chairman Nazmul Ahsan said that about 95 per cent of the country’s workers were facing problem while migration as they were going abroad with help of the brokers or middlemen.
‘So the middlemen should be brought under the purview of the law,’ he said.
In her concluding remarks, Rahnuma Salam Kham said that the workers would go to work abroad by their own choice and their rights must be protected by law.
As the migration has to be safe, orderly and responsible, so the migrant workers must have to have minimum knowledge about their migration and recruiting agents, she observed.
Rahnuma suggested forming of a tripartite committee with civil society members, government officials and representatives of Bangladesh Association of International Recruiting Agencies to settle many burning issues related to labour migration.