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Our migrant workers are returning without their dues being paid

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24th-Jun-2020       
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AS a major labour-exporting country, Bangladesh should raise its voice to realise unpaid dues of migrant workers, since many of them were repatriated arbitrarily in the wake of coronavirus pandemic, migration experts and advocacy groups said on a webinar organised on Monday, as per local media reports.
A global campaign called "wage theft" has been taking shape for quite sometime, and Bangladesh should raise its demands there. For this, comprehensive documentation on migrant workers' grievances is required. Refugee and Migratory Movements Research Unit (RMMRU) organised the webinar on "The other face of globalisation: Arbitrary return of Bangladeshi migrants and their unpaid dues", the first instalment of a series.
For too long our hard working migrant workers have been the stepsons of our economy. They bear the brunt of the struggle to bring our balance of payments into the red, yet are treated like stepchildren -- out of sight and mind. They are more often than not poorly paid, worked hard, even tortured mentally and physically. But in spite of all these they have failed to get the adequate support from our embassies abroad.
As countries of origin like Bangladesh began repatriation processes, it is important that they document grievances of repatriated migrant workers. Grievances can be documented during the quarantine stage upon workers' return to the country of origin. Bangladesh, through its bilateral agreements and relationship with labour destination countries, should insist that they do not repatriate Bangladeshi migrant workers without giving them the opportunity to file any labour complaint.
The process of sending these migrant workers has become a vast scheme to realise billions of takas from these poor and helpless workers. As we have seen in the case of our MP Shahid Islam who managed to extort billions of takas from our migrants, for too long they have been the victim of shady and unscrupulous policies which were designed explicitly to fleece them out of their hard earned cash.
Various administrations have had over 40 years to develop a coherent programme for the workers at a low cost but have been unable to do anything. This is why it costs four times or more to send a Bangladeshi worker to the Gulf states on an average compared to India. For a group which collectively adds 15 billion dollars to our economy it is nothing short of a national shame that they are yet to get a legitimate forum to express their genuine grievances. The government does not raise it's voice on behalf of the deprived poor workers.

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