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Dhaka Tribune

Improve services for migrant workers

Update : 15 Feb 2016, 06:54 PM

Bangladesh and Malaysia are due to finalise an agreement for 1.5 million Bangladeshis to seek work in Malaysia over the next three years. At the same time, Malaysia has begun a process to register existing foreign workers, including many Bangladeshis, whose labour permits have lapsed.

As over half of Malaysia’s estimated 6 million foreign workers are undocumented, this has focused attention on the working conditions reported by overseas workers whose registration has lapsed, as their limbo status makes them more vulnerable to mistreatment.

There are calls to freeze labour imports until the registration process is completed to help improve conditions for existing residents. However, Malaysia’s demand for labour means the two issues of registering workers whose labour permits have lapsed and importing new workers, are proceeding simultaneously.

It is very important for both governments to ensure proper regard is paid to improving the conditions experienced by existing workers, as well as facilitating legal channels for new workers.

Inter-governmental co-operation and new agreements with labour importing nations such as Malaysia are vital to eliminate the abuse and exploitation suffered by Bangladeshi citizens seeking work overseas.

However, as a labour exporting nation whose economy benefits hugely from remittances, Bangladesh’s government also needs to give more priority to ensuring consulates and diplomatic services provide better services for our migrant workers.

It is unacceptable that Bangladeshi migrant workers are often subjected to mistreatment and neglect by our own officials.

Whether it is overcoming poor service at consulates compared to other labour exporting nations to ending protracted delays in the issuing of machine readable passports, we still need to do better as a nation to value and uphold the rights of our expatriate workers.

Their contribution to the economy deserves much greater recognition and support.

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