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Protecting our workers on foreign shores

  • Published at 12:00 am July 3rd, 2019
Foreign Workers
File photo of Migrant workers at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport Mehedi Hasan/Dhaka Tribune

Given the contributions they make to our economy, our foreign workers deserve a lot better

To say that Bangladesh owes a debt of gratitude to the thousands of hard-working men and women abroad who send home remittance earnings would be an understatement -- remittance sent in by our workers abroad is the second biggest source of foreign currency for our country, second only to the ready-made garments industry.

Our current economic prosperity, then, was built on the backs of these Bangladeshi migrant workers.

Why, then, have we consistently failed to help these people from the appalling working conditions that they all-too-often face in certain countries?

The UAE is one of the biggest recipients of manpower of our country, and the nation has a storied history of abusing worker rights and even basic human rights, which extends to their numerous industries.

Which is why reports such as the recent story of 168 Bangladeshi workers in the UAE being stuck in Dubai with unpaid wages comes as a surprise to absolutely no one.

And yet, we see next to no concrete actions being taken to help them during their time of need.

The workers in question have been deprived of their pay for months, all the while their work visas expired without any efforts from their employers to renew them, leaving them with no legal documents to justify their stay.

Given the contributions they make to our economy, our foreign workers deserve a lot better.

We need to ensure that they are given the proper support they require and equip them with the right skills so that they may better adapt to the host country. 

The government should create a mechanism that stops the mistreatment and abuse of our workers in foreign lands -- these workers deserve a better deal than they have received so far.