• Monday, Dec 06, 2021
  • Last Update : 04:32 pm

Greece: Bangladesh's new labour export frontier

  • Published at 07:07 pm October 21st, 2021
Greece hospitality sector
Workers renovate the swiming pool of a hotel on the small southern Greek island of Elafinissos on April 23, 2021 AFP

Greek hospitality sector could open up for skilled migrant workers, says Bangladeshi envoy

The Bangladesh mission in Greece is working on a skills development training program with a Greek training institute to train Bangladeshis in helping them get better jobs in the Mediterranean country.

Speaking to the Dhaka Tribune, Bangladesh Ambassador to Greece Ashud Ahmed said:“Bangladeshis living in Greece, if properly trained for certain professions, can increase their earnings by three or even four times, while the country will benefit from another significant remittance avenue.”

“Some 30,000 Bangladeshis are primarily engaged in agriculture, hospitality and RMG sectors in Greece, the birthplace of democracy.” 

The Bangladeshi envoy also said these labour-intensive sectors could open up a sustainable market for Bangladeshi, provided they upskill the workers and send them through a legal migration channel.

"To integrate expatriate Bangladeshi workers in the Greek labour market, and increase their skills, we started a skill development training program with the renowned Greek training institute named Iek Delta for our prospective workers with support from our Ministry of Expatriate Welfare and Overseas Employment," said Ashud Ahmed.

The program, titled "Basic Training Program in Culinary Arts", was inaugurated with the first batch of 15 trainees on September 17 last month virtually by Expatriates’ Welfare and Overseas Employment Minister Imran Ahmad and secretary of the ministry Ahmed Munirus Saleheen, with five other courses to begin shortly, he added.

The training institute will ensure jobs of the trainees who complete the courses, which will help them to excel in Greece's hospitality sector, as tourism is considered to be its main pillar of economy, said Ahmed. 

“We are also in the process of signing three memorandums of understanding (MoUs) with Greece, Malta and Albania for sustained recruitment of our labour export for their country's sectors like agriculture, construction and fishing.”

If goes as planned, this will be the first of its kind in Europe with possibility of following suit by other European Union (EU) member countries like Italy, Spain and Portugal. 

Asked about deportation of existing migrant workers over there, the envoy said that irregular migrants who have exhausted all legal means to stay have to return to Bangladesh.

“The Greek government is strictly pursuing this policy to curb irregular migration and smuggling. They want to facilitate regular migration by all means,”he said.

Referring to his recent meeting with Greek Minister for Migration and Asylum Notis Mitarachi, the Bangladesh envoy said that Greece has expressed interest to make some arrangement for recruiting agricultural workers from Bangladesh on a short-term basis. 

The ambassador proposed to the minister to consider taking in a large number of Bangladeshi nationals working in Greece’s agriculture legally as they have been making a positive contribution to the Greek economy. 

The Bangladeshi envoy also suggested to his Greek counterpart to regularize their status by issuing residence permits to them or registering them as agricultural workers which will allow them access to health, sanitation, security and legal services.

Migration and Asylum Minister Mitarachi responded positively and informed that the Greek government is going to issue 15,000 temporary work permits to irregular agricultural workers, given that they apply through their respective employers.

In response to the proposal of the ambassador to establish a legal framework for recruiting Bangladeshi agricultural workers, Mitarachi expressed the Greek government's readiness to positively consider such a proposal from Bangladesh. 

The Greek minister mentioned that agricultural workers from Bangladesh may be issued with two years' work visas which would be beneficial for both sides. The ambassador also requested to expedite the processing of pension cases for Bangladeshi expatriates upon their return to Bangladesh after retirement. 

During July-June period of fiscal year 2020-21, Bangladesh exported goods valued at $44.19 million. 

In the July-September period, it exported goods valued $12.75 million to Greece. 

Meanwhile, the Greek economy should grow by 3.3% this year and 5.4% in 2022, fuelled by European recovery fund investment, pent-up consumer demand and an expected return of tourism, International Monetary Fund officials said.

Ambassador Ashud Ahmed also said an electronic passport (e-passport) service has been launched at Bangladesh Embassy in Athens to ensure a hassle-free passport service for the Bangladeshi expatriates living in Greece.

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