The Probash Bandhu call centre, a pilot scheme under ‘access to information’ project of the Prime Minister’s Office and the Wage Earners’ Welfare Board to facilitate expatriate workers lodge their complaints and get solutions, deemed ineffective in serving the workers in overseas employments.
According to a WEWB report, the Probash Bandhu call centre received only 82 complaints in four months, from September 1 to December 31 last year, from expatriates living in three countries – Saudi Arabia, Malaysia and Jordan – where over 25 lakh Bangladeshis are currently employed.
At the time of its launch, the call centre was reportedly projected to answer about a thousand calls daily and was expected to grow.
Officials said that the call centre had got very poor response due to expatriates’ lack of knowledge about the service as a result of negligible publicity, and doubts about the quality of the service, as well as migrant workers’ lack of understanding of the importance of technology.
Migrant rights campaigners, however, said that the multiple points of failure showed that the scheme had been ‘grossly underprepared’ and not as efficient as expected.
They called for making the service more user-friendly and service-oriented and taking steps to improve support services to attract expatriates.
When asked, WEWB director general Gazi Muhammad Julhas told New Age on Saturday that the pilot scheme had become ineffective as the migrant workers did not pay heed to using the call centre.
The government was thinking of revising the project model to attract more expatriates, he said.
Julhas, also an additional secretary to the government, indicated that the government was considering setting up new call centres in some locations in destination countries with high concentration of Bangladeshis so that they could easily share their problems.
Half of the complaints reported by expatriates were solved through counselling, claimed the report signed by WEWB director Nurun Akhter.
The five-month pilot scheme will expire on January 31.
The scheme allows workers to lodge complaints by dialling 09654333333 from the three countries and once any complaint is received, it is instantly forwarded to the department concerned for taking appropriate action.
According to the WEWB report, 31 complaints were received from expatriates living in Riyadh while 20 from Jeddah and 30 from Malaysia and one from Jordan.
Of those recorded cases, 15 were related to jobs, 12 to detentions, 11 to harassments, 10 to tortures, 10 to family issues, 8 to rescuing from workplaces, 7 to repatriation, 4 to visa or passport, 2 to disputes with employer, 2 to bringing dead bodies and one to other categories.
On September 1 last year, expatriates’ welfare and overseas employment minister Nurul Islam launched Probash Bandhu call centre at Probashi Kalyan Bhaban in Dhaka to help expatriate workers share their grievances and get support in solving issues regarding passport, legal issues, sending back dead bodies, compensations, and financial aid for illness.