The UN Migration Agency calls for more structured and ethical recruitment practices for Bangladeshi migrant workers
Dhaka- Bangladesh is still among the few countries in the world that has the highest financial costs for migration. These costs for male migrants can potentially shoot up to BDT 700,000 and for female migrants to BDT 95,000. Moreover, while monthly salary expectations of Bangladeshi migrant workers range from BDT. 25,000 to BDT 1,00,000, they eventually end up earning somewhere between BDT 15,000 to BDT 30,000. These alarming numbers came out from a recent study on recruitment practices in Bangladesh conducted by the UN Migration Agency, IOM. The study has been carried out under the scope of the project ‘Prottasha- Bangladesh Sustainable Reintegration and Improved Migration Governance’ funded by the European Union.
The study highlighted that potential migrants depend more on middlemen than directly contacting the recruiting agencies despite these agents not being licensed or having legal entities within the system. Migrants at large, believe that these middlemen are linked with the recruiting agencies and since many of them are returnee migrants, they are well acquainted with the system.
Lack of appropriate knowledge, influence of middlemen coupled with inability to pursue skilled jobs at countries of destination are often forcing migrants to accept low wages and poor working environment.
“The enormous cost of migration only makes a migrant more vulnerable,” said the Deputy Chief of IOM Bangladesh Ms. Sharon Dimanche, “a process of eradicating the various layers of stakeholders in recruitment, ensuring ethical recruitment practices and bringing work permits and visa processing under a clear mechanism could potentially act as the catalysts for the solution.” She also noted that the International Recruitment Integrity System (IRIS), developed by IOM is an effective tool to identify and support ethical labour recruiters and to bring transformative changes in the international recruitment industry.
Recently, the civil society organizations have been advocating for regularization of middlemen in the system, a replication of the initiatives taken by neighboring Sri Lanka and Pakistan. However, the study found that the model examples of Sri Lanka and Pakistan were unsuccessful and recommends a more careful long-term approach towards regularization of middlemen. In order to support the government’s vision of having a well governed migration management system in Bangladesh, IOM believes that it is important for countries to look into global tools like IRIS and applies in local context to ensure ethical recruitment practices.
“The Government including key stakeholders should come together to assess what role middlemen would play before they are integrated within the system.” said expat ministry’s additional secretary, Dr. Ahmed Munirus Saleheen the chair of the session.
“We can no longer keep sending low skilled migrants,” said the secretary general of Bangladesh Association of International Recruiting Agencies (BAIRA) Mr. Shameen Ahmed Chowdhury Noman, “focus must be put on sending skilled workers – those with higher communication and physical skillsets.”
Mr. Syed Saiful Haque, chairman and founder member of WARBE Development Foundation highlighted the need for more bilateral and multilateral efforts with countries of destination. He also reiterated the importance of IOM’s role in ensuring ethical recruitment practices with the upcoming adaptation of Global Compact on Migration.
The president of BAIRA Mr. Benjir Ahmed during his remarks, highlighted the need for a more coordinated approach and requested the govt. and international community to intervene in the complex visa trading process that has evolved due to syndicates of exploiters both in countries of origin and destination.
The event was attended by representatives from the Government of Bangladesh, private sector, UN Agencies, NGOs/CSOs, development partners and migrant communities.
For more information please contact Chowdhury Asif Mahmud Bin Harun at IOM Bangladesh, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, Tel. +880-1755509476.