Cost of labour

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In this Sunday, June 15, 2014 photo, laborers nap on pieces of empty cardboard boxes during their midday break at the Dragon Mart Phase 2 construction site in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. A midday work ban goes into effect across the United Arab Emirates for construction workers and outdoor laborers, on Sunday, to protect them from the risks of direct sunlight and extremely high temperatures during the hottest summer months. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)

Sale of work visas in black market plays havoc with the lives of migrant workers

Foreign remittances sent by Pakistanis working abroad are around six per cent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and hint at the huge number of labour migrants who have left for foreign lands to earn their livelihood. If we go with official figures, more than eight million Pakistanis have officially proceeded abroad for employment between 1971 and 2015. An overwhelming percentage of this population is based in the six Gulf Cooperation Council countries (GCC), including Saudi Arabia. Continue reading

Out of work across the sea

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Thousands of Pakistani migrant workers are stranded in Saudi Arabia, and experts predict the situation will only worsen with the plummeting oil prices

Shahzad Hussain, father of a young son, belongs to district Sheikhupura in Punjab. Around six months ago, he borrowed Rs600,000 from his relatives and friends to go to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, for work and to realise his dream of carving a fortune out there. Since his childhood, he was inspired by some of fellow villagers who had left for the greener pastures decades ago and earned loads of money there.

But once he reached Jeddah he went through a totally unexpected experience. The kafeel (local sponsor), he shares, confiscated his passport and demanded SAR5,000 for a job for him. While talking on the phone, he says, “I complied with this undue demand and was awarded work against a paltry salary of SAR800 but only for a couple of months.”

For the last three months, Hussain complains, he has been jobless, hence rendered penniless. He misses his family and says, “I want to go home but my passport is with my kafeel. He demands money from me if I want it back.” Continue reading

Bangladesh workers abroad face hard time

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Mizanur Rahman, a mason at a construction firm in Saudi Arabia, is worried about losing his job. His employer has recently expressed inability to continue some of the ongoing projects due to financial crisis.

The lone breadwinner of a five-member family from Faridpur cannot even begin to imagine what would happen to his family if he loses the job.

“We are not getting our wages for the last six months. We are still working for the company, hoping the situation would change soon,” said Mizanur, who has been working for Saudi Oger, one of the largest construction firms in Saudi Arabia, for around four years.

“But there is no sign of improvement… Rather, our employer has told us that he may suspend some of the projects for fund crisis,” the 40-year-old migrant worker told The Daily Star over the phone from the kingdom yesterday. Continue reading

Agents promise false to Bangladeshi migrant workers

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Bangladeshis who came to Malaysia before August 2015 as a tourist or labourer can apply for legal worker status. But agents are making money by promising all migrant workers that they can help them obtain legal status. Even the main company involved with the legalization process of migrant workers, MYEG, is taking advantage of workers.

(As broadcast on Ekattor TV, Bangladesh.)

Malaysia becoming death camp for migrant workers

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The maltreatment of migrants has led to many deaths and brought disgrace to the country besides obstructing long-term economic progress.

By Joshua Woo Sze Zeng in Free Malaysia Today

The Nepalese embassy’s recent report of 461 deaths of its workers in 2015 is a 32% increase from the 348 deaths in 2014. That is an average of nine deaths per week. At this rate, Malaysia is becoming a death camp for migrant workers.

The International Labour Organisation (ILO) in its “Review of Labour Migration Policy in Malaysia” has attributed the cause of the high fatality among migrants to “poor working conditions, high-levels of occupational stress and lack of adequate medical care.”

This is all the result of the Federal Government’s ineffective regulation of the welfare of foreign workers and its dubious migrant policy. Continue reading

Human trafficking – an analysis of issues

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Survivors of human trafficking are entitled to assistance, protection and access to justice regardless of their residence status or whether perpetrators are identified and prosecuted.

By James Nayagam in Free Malaysia Today

The US State Department has just released the 2016 Trafficking in Persons Report placing Malaysia on the Tier 2 Watch List. This is the second consecutive year Malaysia is being placed on this tier. The Tier 2 Watch List concerns countries whose governments do not fully comply with the minimum standards of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA), but are making significant efforts to bring themselves into compliance with those standards. Continue reading

Undocumented Bangladeshi migrant workers face tough time in Malaysia

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To avoid arrests, illegal/ undocumented workers in Malaysia are now living in forests and abandoned warehouses. Since they don’t have a visa or employment papers, they are in conflict with the police. On one hand, helpless Bangladeshi migrant workers are not getting jobs; on the other hand they cannot pay back the money they have invested to come here.

(As broadcast on Ekattor TV, Bangladesh.)

Migration, media and remittance

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It is estimated that one out of every seven people on earth, more than one billion individuals are directly impacted by remittances

Migration, media and remittance are interlinked. If safe migration is ensured, and if we get the total remittances through formal way/ proper channel, the whole scenario of migration will be positively changed, and our national economy will be more strengthen. Definitely we will be gainer in many ways. To address these issues, we must involve print, electronic and social media as key stakeholders among others. National and international campaign to make awareness on safe migration, to prevent human trafficking and people-smuggling trade, life-threatening journey by boat to unknown destinations, those challenging issues require accommodation in national and international media broadly. Bangladeshi workers are very hard-working, and they have been working in different sectors of 161 countries across the globe. But many workers are facing difficulties too due to undocumented, cheated by the brokers, people-smuggling syndicate, trafficked, tortured in detention and jail, getting irregular and low-payment from the employer and few others to mention. So the government and other stakeholders should work from now collectively to ensure all the Bangladeshi workers are under the shadow of the protective umbrella of safe migration. Continue reading

Illegal workers face torture

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These migrant workers came to Malaysia via illegal sea routes and are passing their days in fear. They told Ekattor TV how their fellow travelers were submitted to brutal physical torture and some died of lack of food. Despite being able to earn a few Ringgit every month, they are destined to be unhappy.

(As broadcast on Ekattor TV, Bangladesh.)