“BMET needs a separate wing for resolving migrant workers’ complaints”
Mr. Anisul Islam Mahmud MP, Chairman, Parliamentary Standing Committee on Ministry of Expatriate Welfare and Overseas Employment says that Bureau of Manpower, Employment and Training (BMET) needs to open a separate arbitration wing for resolving migrant workers’ complaints.
He also said that remittance from the migrant workers is a key pillar of our country’s economic strength, and therefore, the protection and welfare of this labor force should not be overlooked at any cost.
He made the remarks during a consultation on migrant workers’ access to justice held at Pan Pacific Sonargaon Hotel in Dhaka on Saturday. The program was organized Ovibashi Karmi Unnayan Program (OKUP), a non-governmental development organization.
Since the migration process for working abroad is mostly dependent on the sub-agents in Bangladesh, the chief guest, Chairman, Parliamentary Standing Committee on Ministry of Expatriate Welfare and Overseas Employment Mr. Anisul Islam Mahmud calls for their regulation and registration with the recruiting agencies for curbing their unlawful and unethical practices.
The key findings of OKUP research titled “Access to justice for Bangladeshi migrant workers: Opportunities and Challenges” were exposed at the consultation. The report was done by interviewing with 110 returnee migrant workers across the country who received legal, economic and psychosocial aid from OKUP in the last year. In his keynote address, Shakirul Islam, Chairman of OKUP, explored on the violation of the rights of the migrant workers. The research data also revealed that 61% of women migrants face physical torture by their employers appointed by the recruiting agents at the destination countries. 86% of these women forced to return without their salaries. Even though they have the rights to seek justice, limitations of law make their access to justice intimidating and very difficult. 90% of these people did not receive their job contracts and are little informed about their job conditions and salaries. The updates also show that sub-agents provided false medical certificates to 58% of these women, and fraudulent training completion certificates to 25% of them, and thus enticed them carried out illegal and unethical migration.
Terming migration a complex, global phenomenon, Chief guest, Professor Dr. Mizanur Rahman, Former Chairman of National Human Rights Commission, expressed his grudge that Saudi Arab and other destination countries of the Bangladeshi migrant workers have not yet signed the convention on the Protection of Migrant Workers 1998. He added how these countries speak about Muslim brotherhood but never treated our migrant as equal to them. Recalling that the international community will not be enough serious about the violations of their rights to these workers, Dr. Mizanur Rahman urges that it is high time to protect the rights of our own people. However, he opined at the same time that the existing justice system of Bangladesh does not ensure a friendly environment for the rich, it just victimizes them more. He recommends that for responding to migrant workers’ complaints, mediation would be a better option to practice rather than the existing arbitration system of jurisdiction. Special Guest of the consultation, Mr. Shafiqul Islam, Joint Secretary of Wage Earners’ Welfare Board (WEWB), shed light on the lack of legal provisions in destination countries which was also responsible for the mistreatment of Bangladeshi migrant workers. Stressing on the importance of building human capital, Mr. Nazibul Islam, Additional Secretary of the Ministry of Expatriates’ Welfare and Overseas Employment, opined that eliminating the risks of migration would be possible through a skilled workforce. He called for opening up the Technical Training Centre (TTC) at every district. “For empowering the job-seekers and aspirant migrant workers, the skills of teachers in technical curriculums should also be upgraded” he added.
In collaboration with The Catholic Agency for Overseas Development (CAFOD), the consultation brought together civil society, returnee migrant workers, human rights activists, media and other relevant stakeholders along with government officials. OKUP believes its research and recommendations will help to ensure the rights of migrant workers and redress their complaints accordingly.