Many governments and employers are using COVID-19 situation to force foreign workers to leave jobs and to fly to their homes penniless, international experts said on Tuesday.
They described it as wage theft by the employers and stressed the need for setting an international mechanism for providing compensation as a part of their entitlement to justice.
Shashi Tharoor, an Indian Lokshabha member, said COVID‑19 pandemic situation ‘has become an excuse’ to force foreign workers to leave jobs without getting legitimate wage and compensation.
Setting an international compensation commission is essential, he said, adding that the governments of those countries should be pressured to stop wage theft and pay compensation to the workers.
Former Bangladesh foreign secretary M Shahidul Haque stressed the need for ensuring entitlement to justice of workers deprived of their legitimate wages.
About 5 lakh Bangladeshi workers returned home in a few months and most of them came back almost penniless, he said.
He termed the installation of the international mechanism for compensation as ‘a long process’, but said, ‘we need to start.’
Roula Hamati of the Cross-Regional Centre for Refugees and Migrants in Lebanon said that wage theft should not be a ‘new normal.’
Ryszard Cholewinski of the International Labour Organisation said that there was a move at the UN to install an international mechanism for wage compensation.
William Gois, regional coordinator of Migrant Forum in Asia, moderated the discussion jointly organised by MFA, Cross Regional Centre for Refugees and Migrants, and the Global Research Forum on Diaspora and Transnationalism.
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