Monthly Archives: June 2016

For Assam worker, fear is the key in Kerala

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Kerala, as well as whole of India, was stunned after the brutal rape and murder of Dalit Law student Jisha who with her aged, sick mother had been living in a dilapidated hut on the outskirts of Perumbavoor town in Ernakulam district of Kerala. Her rape and murder resembled that of Delhi’s Nirbhaya. The ruling UDF front of that time was trounced in last assembly elections due to the protest wave which swept across the state. Finally, the accused Ameerul Islam, hailing from Nagaon district of Assam, was arrested from Kanchipuram in Tamil Nadu. Investigation is still going on in full swing. Kerala police team reached Assam and gathered clues about the criminal antecedents of the accused. Many migrated labourers, especially from Assam, were questioned by the police using third degree. Continue reading

Illegal, ill-treated

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Nepali workers are unlawfully forced to become ‘illegal’ by unscrupulous employers, recruiters and the government.

When Malaysia launched a massive crackdown on illegal migrant workers in 2014, thousands of Nepalis without passports here were left with only two options: return home or get arrested.

To return home without passports, Nepali workers would require travel documents. But the Nepali embassy in Kuala Lumpur was under-staffed, and issuing travel documents for so many of them at such short notice was not possible. Continue reading

MOU on Employment Fund for Migrant Workers signed (Nepali)

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वैदेशिक रोजगारमा रहेका कामदारलाई कर्मचारी सञ्चय कोषमा आबद्ध गर्न सञ्चय कोष र गैरआवासीय नेपाली संघ (एनआरएनए) बीच सझदारी पत्र (एमओयू) मा हस्ताक्षर भएको छ । हाल विचाराधीन अवस्थामा रहेको ‘कर्मचारी सञ्जय कोष ऐनलाई संशोधन गर्न बनेको विधेयक’ पारित भएपछि वैदेशिक रोजगारमा कार्यरत कामदार कोषमा समेटिने छन् ।

सञ्चय कोषको मुख्यालय पुल्चोकमा आयोजित कार्यक्रममा कोषका प्रशासक कृष्णप्रसाद आचार्य र एनआरएन अध्यक्ष शेष घलेले ७ बुँदे एमओयूमा हस्ताक्षर गरे । एमओयूमा सञ्चय कोष ऐन संशोधन भएपछि प्रवासी नेपाली कामदारलाई कोषबाट सामाजिक सुरक्षा प्रदान गर्ने प्रक्रियाका लागि कोष र एनआरएनबाट संयुक्त अध्ययन गर्ने भनिएको छ । करिब डेढ वर्षअघि दर्ता भएको विधेयक संसद्को अर्थ समितिद्वारा गठित उपसमितिले पारित गरी अर्थ समितिमा छलफलका लागि पेस गरेको छ । Continue reading

Migrant Workers from India, Pakistan Bound by Common Labor Concerns

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In a cramped house in a busy street in Deira Dubai, Hindu migrant workers from Gujarat and Muslim migrant workers from Pakistan live and work together. They celebrate the holy month of Ramadan as Pakistani Muslims distribute sweets and fruits to their Hindu co-workers. They cook and eat together. They chant the Gita and the Quran side by side.

Thoughts of nationhood and religion take a back seat as these migrant workers, far from home, are bound by common and more pressing issues of poverty, unemployment and exploitation.

(Originally aired in the People TV, India.)

Despite Jordan’s Efforts, There Is A Long Way To Go To Ensure Protection For Domestic Workers

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South Asian workers from Sri Lanka and Bangladesh working in Jordanian garment factories in Dhulail Industrial City. Courtesy: Rina Mukherji.

When Meilani Yuswandari, an Indonesian from Jakarta, completed her higher secondary education, she began looking for work abroad. During her search, Yuswandari met a recruiting agent who assured her of an office job in Jordan. But when she reached the country in 2011, she realised that the office job she was promised did not exist. Instead, her agent had found her a job as the domestic help of a large family, and she was forced into work she had not agreed to. Yuswandari had to cook, clean and manage all household chores, and was not allowed to leave the house under any circumstances. “The agent took away my passport and passed it on to my employer,” Yuswandari told me when I spoke to her last month. “When I asked for it, she”—her employer—“said she was keeping it safely for me. But eventually, she claimed to have lost it.” Continue reading

MRPs still elusive for Bangladeshi migrant workers

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Bangladeshi migrant workers are finding it difficult to get Machine Readable Passports (MPR). They are desperately trying to contact agents or the High Commission. If they do not have an MRP passport by 31 July they will lose their job and could be arrested for being an undocumented/ illegal migrant worker. The High Commission says it can manage up to 3000 MRP passports daily.

(As broadcast on Ekkotar TV, Bangladesh.)

Lost and found on TV

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A Malayalam TV show has helped track down as many as 530 missing migrant workers in the Gulf. For the families of the missing, the show is a saviour

A cousin’s sudden suicide within days of taking up an engineer’s job in Muscat saw Rafeek Ravuther wake up to the dark side of Gulf migration. Until then, like most Keralites, he had only known of the remittances that made his state prosperous, with holiday resorts springing up at every step.

Kerala has contributed the largest number of migrant workers to the oil-rich Gulf region. More than two million skilled and unskilled Keralites work in West Asia and make the majority of the expatriate population in Saudi Arabia, UAE, Oman, Kuwait, Bahrain and Qatar. Continue reading

Despite Labour Laws, South Asian Workers Suffer in Jordan’s Billion Dollar Industries

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South Asian workers from Sri Lanka and Bangladesh working in Jordanian garment factories in Dhulail Industrial City. Courtesy: Rina Mukherji.

Unlike other countries in West Asia, Jordan lacks petrodollars. In 1996, an agreement with the US gave the country preferential duty-free and quota-free access to the American market. This was the first such agreement the US ever had with an Arab nation and saw the establishment of Qualifying Industrial Zones (QIZ) – essentially, industrial zones created to service the export market. In 2000, a free trade agreement with the US furthered the relationship and also brought Jordan closer to Israel. As per the terms of the agreement, around 8% of the value addition for the products manufactured in the QIZs must come from Israel.

Today, garment exports earn Jordan upwards of $1.5 billion (as per 2015 figures), with earnings slated to further rise in 2016. Currently, there are 75 garment factories in Jordan’s five major QIZs, with 60,000 workers. Nearly 75% of the workforce here hails from South Asian countries like India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Nepal. Continue reading

Listen to the migrant workers

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If you listen to the migrant workers attentively, you will realize that despite not being dangerous they themselves are in danger unfortunately, and illogically! Millions of Bangladeshi migrant workers have been working sincerely in different sectors in many countries. They are sending foreign remittance worth billions of taka to Bangladesh. But it is unfortunate that many of them do not get satisfactory help and service from the Bangladesh embassies and high commissions in the countries they are working. They are even deprived of their human rights sometimes. We must keep in mind that first they are the citizens of our country Bangladesh and then they are the migrant workers. That is why they have the equal rights like other citizens. Continue reading