'We have already cancelled license of over 100 recruiting agencies, but those who are doing good will be rewarded'
The government decided to offload workers heading overseas if they are not properly informed of the clauses of their agreement with the employer or if they fail to carry a copy of the formal agreement along with them to secure migrant workers’ rights.
The Ministry of Expatriates’ Welfare and Overseas will issue a circular in this regard on Sunday, Md Salim Reza, secretary of the ministry said at an event in Dhaka on Saturday.
“We will make sure and cross check that the workers have understood the clauses during immigration clearance. It will also be checked at the airports at both ends. If the recruiting agencies do not help the prospective worker understand the conditions or if he/she does not hold a copy of the agreement before the journey, the worker will be offloaded,” said Reza.
“We are also developing a new policy for female migrant workers. We will issue the circular on this tomorrow (Sunday) which will emphasize on the workers having to understand the clauses of the agreement. The recruiting agencies will have to make the conditions of employment clear to the workers heading abroad,” the secretary said.
The ministry’s decision comes as a precaution in protecting the large numbers of workers that are daily heading overseas under informal agreements of employment that usually intensify the vulnerability of migrant workers.
Bangladesh has long been struggling to secure the rights of migrant workers, particularly female workers with thousands returning home to Bangladesh everyday empty handed.
The government also recently decided to give proper training to domestic helps - a decision taken amidst the several unpleasant incidents of women expatriate workers who were deported from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA). These workers had been subject to mental and physical torture there.
“We are trying to bring recruiting agencies for Saudi Arabia under accountability. Process is underway so that we can register the recruiting agencies under our embassy in the KSA so that we can blacklist the agencies based on complaints,” said Reza.
The secretary also added that the agencies will face strict action if they send workers without proper medical check-up and training.
“We have already cancelled license of over 100 recruiting agencies, but those who are doing good will be rewarded,” he said.
The secretary also said they are working towards the completion of recruiting agency classification which is expected to end by next month.
“Not all areas in Saudi Arabia are the same. Incidents took place in some specific areas. We will restrict sending workers to those areas,” assured Reza.
In the last four years, over 5,000 Bangladeshi women have returned from Saudi Arabia, amidst allegations of abuse and torture against their employers.
In 2018 alone, at least 1,500 women returned home from Saudi Arabia, according to Brac’s Migration Programme.
At the moment, some 146 female workers are putting up at different safe homes in Saudi Arabia and 34 others are at the deportation centres, Expatriates’ Welfare and Overseas Employment Secretary Md Salim Reza had further said.