The 15 Bangladeshis who had been sent back home from Hong Kong due to termination of contracts by their employers find no ways to clear the loans they took to go to the Chinese city.
They went to Hong Kong between June and August last year under a deal through Sadia International, a Bangladeshi recruiting agency, for two years by taking a loan Tk 1.4 lakh each from Probashi Kallyan Bank.
They were supposed to pay back the loan gradually from their monthly salaries of Tk 41,500 as domestic helps in Hong Kong.
But without showing any reason, the employers started sacking the workers in September before the expiry of their two-year contract.
Now, they urged the expatriates' welfare and overseas employment ministry to help them pay back the bank loans and asked Sadia International to compensate for their losses.
The workers made the call at a press briefing in the city's Dhaka Reporters Unity yesterday.
“I have failed to find a new job after returning home from Hong Kong in October last year,” said Monowara Begum.
“It is impossible for me to clear the loan, as no-one wants to give me a job now,” said Monowara who used to work in a clinic in the capital before leaving for HK.
The victims said the recruiting agencies of the two countries and the expatriates' welfare ministry had promised that the jobs would continue for at least two years.
The HK employers compelled them to work for a minimum of 15 to 16 hours a day without any weekly leave, violating the conditions in the contracts.
“I had to complete the household chores of a five-member family starting from 6am till 11:30pm. But I was not provided with sufficient food at that time,” said Sultana Parvin, another victim from Comilla.
“Despite heavy workload, I remained silent because of a fear to lose the job. But my employer sacked me without any notice.”
Shameem Ahmed Chowdhury, proprietor of Sadia International, however, said he played a minor role in sending those workers.
“We provided them with training only.”
He said the expatriates' welfare ministry should seek compensations from the HK-based recruiting agencies.
Expatriates' Welfare Minister Khandker Mosharraf Hossain said the ministry had asked the recruiting agencies of HK to return $900 to each of the returnees.
The minister, however, claimed many of the workers returned home for personal reasons.
“We would consider the demands after scrutinising the reasons showed by the returnees,” he told The Daily Star.