Experts call for emphasis on labour migration issues

Md Owasim Uddin Bhuyan | Published at 12:58am on April 20, 2019

In Brunei, a large number of workers from Bangladesh are facing problems including non-availability of their jobs after arrival with employment visas, according to Bangladesh High Commission in Bandar Seri Begawan.
Bangladeshi workers are also complaining about non-payment of their due wages by their employers, officials said.
Besides, migrants were regularly falling victims to organised rackets of brokers controlling recruitment of Bangladeshi workers to be employed in Brunei, they said.
Migrant rights activists called for putting emphasis on labour migration issues during Bangladesh prime minister’s state visit to Brunei to ensure safe, orderly and regular migration.
Officials said that Bangladeshis were frequently lodging complaints at Bangladesh High Commission in Bandar Seri Begawan seeking its support to realise their due salaries.
According to Bangladesh mission’s labour wing, it has extended support to 35 Bangladeshi workers to realise their due wages that remained unpaid from January to March in 2019.
Besides, the labour wing extended its support to realize due wages of 310 Bangladeshi workers in Brunei in 2018, an increase from 229 workers in 2017.
Brokers often recruit Bangladeshi workers for fake companies offering jobs that do not exist in reality.
In case of such employment fraud, workers are recruited without getting their visas attested by the Bangladesh high commission’s labour wing, forcing them to live their lives in uncertainty, according to Bangladesh High Commission.
In a recent letter to the Expatriates Welfare and Overseas Employment Ministry, the High Commissioner Air Vice-Marshal (retd) Mahmud Hossain underscored the need for signing a memorandum of understanding on manpower recruitment with Brunei for orderly and ethical recruitment.
During the scheduled visit of prime minister Sheikh Hasina, Bangladesh was expected to sign seven memorandums of understanding with Brunei, said officials in Dhaka.
Foreign minister AK Abdul Momen, at a news briefing, said that the six finalised instruments, likely to be signed during the PM’s visit, were related to bilateral cooperation on agriculture, fisheries, livestock, youth and sports, cultural affairs and energy sectors.
Officials said that recession in Brunei caused by shrinking oil prices began to hurt expatriate workers, including those from Bangladesh.
It is for the first time in the history of oil rich and under-populated Brunei that expatriate workers are facing irregular payment of wages.
In his complaint, Bangladeshi worker Saidul Khan said that he was recruited for a job at a shop but he was forced to work in agricultural lands.
Saidul, to secure employment, had paid Tk 350,000 to the employer Nabir Hossain, Airport Mall at Jaya Setia Berakas in Bandar Seri Begawan. Later, his employer withheld payment of wages for the last seven months and 15 days, he said in a letter to Bangladesh High Commission.
Several groups of Bangladeshi workers recently complained to the Bangladesh High Commission’s labour wing in Bandar Seri Begawan that their wages remained unpaid for months.
Ovibashi Karmi Unnayan Program chairman Shakirul Islam said that during the state visit, the issues of labour migration should be given high priority.
‘The bilateral meetings can solve the problems of the Bangladeshi workers who are sending remittances to the country,’ he said.
BRAC migration programme head Shariful Islam said that though it was a small labour market but Brunei could be a good alternative to the traditional destinations.
He said that during the visit of the prime minister, steps should be taken to remove the existing problems while new opportunities should be explored for Bangladeshi workers.
Journalist-turned migration expert Shariful said that Brunei labour market should be nurtured properly as Malaysia stopped recruiting workers from Bangladesh.
Since 1992, Brunei recruited over 70,000 Bangladeshi workers, according to the records of the Bureau of Manpower, Employment and Training.
About 30,000 workers from Bangladesh are currently working in Brunei, said Bangladesh High Commission officials.