Punjab working on idea to facilitate migrant labour

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For the promotion of safe and secure employment abroad, the Punjab government in Pakistan is working on a rare idea of setting up its own ‘camps’ in countries of destination for migrant labourers from the province.

Under the plan, the provincial government will set up residential quarters or camps in host countries exclusively for the workers from Punjab.

The camp will have required facilities – from medical to social – having doctors and labour welfare officers to look after community issues and guide the workers in case(s) of dispute(s) with their employers in host country and/or recruitment agencies in home country.

Dr Javed Gill, coordinator for setting up the first such camp in Qatar, told Dawn that the project would also offer social security to the workers and help prevent them from exploitation through retaining of passports and other documents of the migrant labourers by the employers and charging of exorbitant fees or flawed/fraudulent job contracts offered by recruitment agencies.

To bear the cost for offering the facilities, he said, the system would be linked with the Punjab Social Security Department.

There are presently 119,845 workers of Pakistan origin in Qatar and around 7,000 workers head for the tiny Gulf state each year.

A delegation of the Punjab government led by labour and human resource minister Raja Ashfaq Sarwar had recently visited Qatar to enhance job opportunities for Pakistanis there and discuss possibilities of provision of particularly skilled workers for the construction boom in the wake of 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar and the idea of setting up the specialized workers’ camp.

A formal response from Qatar government is yet awaited for signing a Memorandum of Understanding in this respect as the Pakistan embassy has been tasked to formally take up the issue through proper channel.

Dr Gill said if Qatrar experience proved successful, the idea of workers’ camps would be extended to other Gulf countries.

He said work was also in progress to set up a portal for migrant labour as part of a campaign to promote employment abroad and a meeting was held in this regard on Wednesday (Sept 30).

(Originally published in the Dawn, Pakistan.)

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