A cartel of 14 recruiting agencies chosen by the government of Bangladesh for sending workers to Singapore has been blamed for increasing the migration costs.
The syndicate compels each worker to pay at least Tk eight lakh for migrating to Singapore though the Ministry of Expatriates Welfare and Overseas Employment set Tk 2.6 lakh as the maximum cost for migrating to Singapore, said victims and officials.
EWOE ministry’s additional secretary for monitoring and enforcement Najibul Islam told New Age on Monday, ‘We are aware about the problem and soon action would be taken against the perpetrating recruiting agencies.’
Officials and migrant rights activists said that the cartel of recruiting agencies use middlemen to cheat the workers.
On October 11, 2015, the EWOE ministry issued a circular appointing 14 private recruiting agencies for sending workers to Singapore.
The agencies include, Group S International (RL-1177), Oasis Services (RL- 999), Jihan Overseas Limited (RL- 1104), Merit Trade International Limited (RL-933), Penguin International Limited (RL-369), Singapore- Bangladesh Services (RL-561), Srijita Overseas Limited (RL-1065), The Gazipur International (RL-891), Al Jannat Overseas Private Limited (RL-926), RX Care International (RL-1240), Well Tech Employment Service (RL-1254), Unique Eastern Private Limiyted (RL-21), South Point Overseas Limited (RL-622) and Bluestar Service (RL-372)
Merit Trade International’s managing director Hasan Ahmed Chowdhury Kiron told New Age that ‘unequal competition’ among recruiting agencies was the main cause of high cost of migration to Singapore.
Kiron said that training centres run by the 14 agencies in and around the capital were approved by Singapore authorities.
On return home from Singapore in December last year, Mohammad Mokaddas told New Age that he had to pay Tk 5.5 lakh to a broker for migration to Singapore in 2011.
He said that he never met the recruiting agency men while attending a six-month training on welding at Delco Centre in the capital before migrating to Singapore.
He said that he was charged Tk 50,000 only for attending the training.
He said now a worker is charged Tk eight lakh for migrating to Singapore.
WARBE Development Foundation chairman Syed Saiful Haque said that the government should investigate into the activities of the syndicate of 14 agencies.
He demanded ensuring safe, orderly and regular migration in the light of the global compact on migration (GCM).
Ovibashi Karmi Unnayan Program chairman Shakirul Islam demanded bringing brokers active throughout the country under the framework.
According to Bureau of Manpower, Employment and Training records,
over 7.15 lakh workers from Bangladesh since 1979. Singapore recruits Bangladeshi shipbuilding, repair and construction workers.
Alex Au, volunteer of Singapore based Transient Workers Count Too, in short TWC2, a non-profit organization working for improving migrant workers working conditions, in email message told New Age that a cheated worker can sue his agent, in practice this is impossible when the victim doesn’t even know the name of the agent.
Cleaners in shipyards do not have to undergo pre-training so if agents cite mandatory training for the high migration cost they are conveniently ignorant about shipyard and cleaning industries.
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