Migrant rights groups have called for a transparent labour recruitment mechanism as Bangladesh and Malaysian officials discuss the future labour recruitment plan in the Southeast Asian country.
“…It is important that we analyse the root causes of the abuses caused by the non-transparent dubious recruitment practices seen in the past,” said a joint statement issued yesterday.
Musarrat Preveen of CARAM Asia; Glorene A Das of Tenaganita and Adrian Pereira of North South Initiative issued the statement as a joint working group comprising officials from Malaysia and Bangladesh began a two-day meeting in Malaysia’s Putrajaya yesterday.
Labour recruitment from Bangladesh in Malaysia has been suspended since September following allegations of monopoly by a syndicate of ten recruiting agents and charging a high migration cost of up to Tk 4 lakh each.
There are around one million -- both documented and undocumented Bangladeshi workers -- most of whom are vulnerable to exploitation, the statement said.
“Even workers who come with proper documentations are subjected to various forms of violations,” said the rights bodies, adding that they are extremely concerned about migrant workers’ current situation in Malaysia.
Due to the abnormally high fees paid by Bangladeshi workers to come to Malaysia in comparison to other nationalities, Bangladeshi workers’ risks of being abused are much higher, they added.
The system of recruiting foreign workers through labour agents should be abolished and recruitment should be done via a government mechanism, it added.
“We should ensure that past mistakes on the recruitment of migrant workers are not repeated as it will impact millions of Bangladeshi migrant workers.”
The rights bodies demanded a bilateral agreement between the two countries instead of MoUs, while suggesting stronger labour inspection services in Malaysia to monitor working conditions.
They also recommended regularising undocumented migrants and absorbing them into the labour market before fresh recruitments.
“Global industries are following the principles of zero migration cost. Bangladesh and Malaysia must follow it for the sake of labour rights and good business.”