Archive for the ‘Immigrant Workers’ Category

Desperation lost in sea

Posted: জানুয়ারি 24, 2009 in Immigrant Workers

Madina Begum still cannot accept the fact that her husband Abdul Malek, a day-labourer, will ever return.


“It was ten days before Eid. He left home around 4:00pm without uttering a word. Then in the evening he called me from Nayapara to say he was going to Malaysia,” Madina told this correspondent at their home in Falangpara, Teknaf.


Malek, 40, only earned between Tk 60-100 a day to support his five-member family.

“He always wanted to give our children a better life but he never explained how he intended to go to Malaysia. If I knew I would not have allowed him to go in that way,” Madina said.

“He sold my gold earrings, nose pins and even some new utensils to raise Tk 20,000 for him to go abroad,” she added.

Malek was among the 300 migrants who drowned on their way to Malaysia by engine boat.

On December 28 the Indian coastguards rescued around 100 migrants in Andaman Sea when they tried to swim ashore. They were thought to be Rohingya refugees living in Bangladesh.

At least 67 of them later identified themselves as Bangladeshis and the list was sent to Dhaka for verification. Malek’s name was however not on the list.

Hafez Ahmed, brother-in-law of Enayetullah whose name was found on the list, said he talked with Enayet now under the custody of Andaman authorities and was convinced that Malek was not among the survivors.

The Bangkok-based refugee advocacy group Arakan Project said the Thai navy abandoned hundreds of illegal migrants on a barge in the Indian Ocean where about 300 desperate people with little food and water died.

It also said four illegal migrants were tied up and thrown into the ocean after they refused to board the Thai navy vessel.

Asked how she would manage her family now, Madina Begum said, “My father and mother-in-law are no more. I don’t know how far my parents will help me.”

She now wonders how to explain to their three young kids Tahera Begum, Mohammad Tarek, 8, and Saiful Islam, 4, what has happened.

Asked about his father, Tarek gave an innocent smile and just said: “Malaysia.”

The daily star 25th january 2009



Cheated workers forced to return from S’pore

Posted: জানুয়ারি 13, 2009 in Immigrant Workers

Several thousand Bangladeshi workers who went to Singapore with valid documents are being forced to return home in small groups as the Singaporean labour supplying companies allegedly cheated them by not arranging jobs for months.

Strong syndicates of manpower businesses in both Bangladesh and Singapore have been using sophisticated ways to swindle the workers for quite sometime resulting in such plight of the workers, said the returnees and other sources.

The government, however, said the joblessness has been created because of the global financial crisis, but knows no way to address it.

Returnees of a group of 26 workers who arrived in Dhaka Monday told The Daily Star that many such groups had already come back home from Singapore for similar reasons and many others will be coming shortly.

Singapore blacklisted over 40 companies of the country for their inability to provide regular jobs and salaries to the Bangladeshi workers.

Bangladesh also set a rule in which the Bangladesh mission in Singapore must attest all the job demands of shipping sector to make sure that workers are not hired against fake demands.

“An official of our labour wing in Singapore informed a few days back that some agencies were hiring more workers than required,” said an official at the Bureau of Manpower Employment and Training (BMET).

The government therefore framed the new rule two months back, he said.

“Hiring workers from Bangladesh and then sending them back after a few months by the manpower agencies is a huge business. We have to pay Tk 4 to Tk 5 lakh each to go to Singapore,” said Abu Sayeed, one of the returnees, Monday night.

Promised by an agent a monthly salary equivalent to Tk 40,000 to Tk 50,000 for work in a shipping company, Sayeed went to Singapore on August 25 last year as a welder.

“After going there, I sat for a test and succeeded but I was not given any job for a single day,” he said, adding that he along with around 350 Bangladeshi workers was kept in a dormitory in a shabby condition.

“We were given minimal food just for survival. We complained to our embassy after a few weeks and to the Ministry of Manpower of Singapore but nothing happened,” the hapless worker said.

The Singapore Ministry of Manpower then arranged air ticket for the workers of Bangladesh so that they can return home, he said.

Sayeed said around 50 other workers of their group came back home for similar reasons. The agent also gradually cancels work permits of others, he added.

Sultana Adnan, welfare coordinator of Singapore Bangladesh Samity, an NGO registered in Singapore, said some charity groups have been providing food assistance to a number of such groups of unemployed workers.

“The manpower agents are very clever. They cancel the valid work permits of the workers in phases and send them in small groups so that no one can know the way of their cheating,” Adnan said while talking to The Daily Star yesterday.

Referring to an official of Bangladesh embassy in Singapore, she said there are around 10,000 jobless Bangladeshi workers in Singapore now. They were the victims of unscrupulous manpower syndicates, she said.

Expatriates’ Welfare Ministry Secretary Abdul Matin Chowdhury, however, said joblessness occurred due to global economic recession.

He said they would look into the matter seriously if complaints are made in this regard.

Remittances keep growing

Posted: জানুয়ারি 10, 2009 in Immigrant Workers, Remittances

Maintain the trend at any cost

The just-concluded calendar year, despite the ongoing global financial meltdown, has yielded an upbeat note on remittances from Bangladeshi wage earners abroad. These have posted $8.22billion topping $6.55billion the year before and are headed to cross the $10billion mark by the end of the current financial year. This is a big bounty compared with $2billion in 2000. The graphic rise in the export of manpower is illustrated by the statistics that whereas 3.81lakh workers had gone out of the country in 2006, the present figure is close to nine lakh. 

This is an altogether impressive achievement when viewed in the context of various adversities faced by our workers abroad in the shape of breach of job contracts, deceitful conduct of employment agencies and other extreme circumstances like deportation or layoffs. Even on their return home at the airport or elsewhere, they are not treated with courtesy commensurate with their contributions to the economy.

There is a strong feeling that with greater dynamism and facilitation from the foreign ministry, expatriate welfare ministry and our overseas missions, manpower export could be diversified, especially at a time when the traditional labour markets are likely to face a crunch if the global recession lingers.

So far the news on this count has been good. Remittance from Saudi Arabia still tops the list with 29.9 per cent of the earnings posted from July to October 2008-09 fiscal followed by USA’s 17.4 per cent. The other major sources of remittance growth have been UAE, Kuwait and Malaysia.

One can take heart from the CPD’s assessment that the financial meltdown is not likely to hit the Middle Eastern economies as severely as the West. But it would affect them all the same to some degree. Rather than resting on the oars of such readings, therefore, we must be prepared with a fallback strategy to sustain the export trends both for our manpower and garment sectors, the two major pillars of macro-economic stability in the country.


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