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Workers migrating to Qatar for zero-fee

  • Published at 12:20 am October 9th, 2019
Workers are seen at a construction site in Doha, Qatar AFP

Demand for construction workers increased in the country due to the Fifa World Cup 2022

Imam Hasan, 22 , dropped out of school when he was in fourth grade, after the death of his father, forced him to support his family six years ago. 

Following years of hard work, Imam’s hopes for a better future for his family were kindled when a local politician told him of opportunities to work overseas. His hopes grew further when he learned, to his surprise, that he would not have to pay anything to the middleman.  

“It is hard to believe that I am flying to Qatar without paying anything. I don’t have the burden of debt,” Imam told Dhaka Tribune two days before his flight, while sitting at the Gulshan office of manpower recruitment agency Bonanza Overseas.

In 2018, Bonanza Overseas partnered with Qatari construction company STS Group, QDVC, Vinci Corporation, and the International Labour Organization (ILO) Qatar to set up an Ethical Recruitment Wing. The aim of the wing is to send workers such as Imam overseas, free of cost. 

As per the agreement between Bonanza Overseas and STS, the recruitment agency will bear the cost of air tickets, visas, medical tests and immigration requirements of workers who are recruited. However, potential candidates have to go through interviews and physical tests, as well as provide necessary documentation. 

Bonanza Group Managing Director Aneek Intesar Ahmed told Dhaka Tribune the main challenge was finding employment for workers with limited skills, such as construction site helpers, at zero cost.

“It is always higher the skill, lower they pay and lower the skill, the higher they pay. This has been a market model for many years,” Aneek said.

“We have committed to a zero fee model for the workers under this project with Qatar, but that does not mean no money is being paid. We pay the cost of recruitment, whatever it is, and the hiring company reimburses us later. This is a new policy ILO Qatar is trying to implement for companies hiring in the country,” he added.  

He further said his father taught him to make sure that every stakeholder is happy at the end of the day, and he tries to live by this principle.    

Mohd Sarwar, HR & admin manager of STS Group, said: “We conduct an exit interview with every single employee before they leave to work with our company, to make sure they are well aware of their job responsibilities, working conditions and overall process.”

He further said the upcoming Fifa World Cup 2022 in Qatar had raised the demand for construction workers in the country.

Mahsoun NR Choudhury, senior consultant of the Bonanza Group, said the ethical recruitment project was being supervised by ILO Qatar.

Bonanza Overseas has sent 230 workers to Qatar this year, so far, with 70 more in the pipeline.

ILO Qatar is working in partnership with the Ministry of Administrative Development, Labour and Social Affairs (ADLSA) in Qatar to drive fair recruitment. Their priority is to ensure that workers do not pay any fees or related costs for their recruitment either in their country of origin or in Qatar, and are fully aware about their working conditions before migrating.

Marina Sultana, program director of the Refugee and Migratory Movements Research Unit, said although ethical recruitment was important, digital versions of all documents should be kept online to ensure transparency.

She added that everything should be double checked to prevent any loopholes.

“Workers might get exploited and give money to middleman before they go to any recruitment agency. This is why everything should be double checked,” Sultana said.