New deal with KSA good news for BD
BANGLADESH signed a deal with Saudi Arabia yesterday to resume recruitment of workers on a gradual basis, which will result in 10,000 jobs per month, primarily for domestic workers and drivers. After a seven year ban on recruitment from Bangladesh, the decision to reopen its labour market for our workers is undoubtedly a milestone development. We further welcome the fact that the cost of migration would be borne by Saudi employers, which would considerably lessen the burden on migrants.
As per the deal, Bangladesh must ensure that it sends people with clean records in KSA, which remains the largest manpower market for Bangladesh and the source of most of its remittances.
As we initiate a new partnership, some concerns regarding migrant workers' plights should also be addressed by both the governments. In light of the fact that India, the Philippines, Indonesia and Sri Lanka have set several terms and stipulations, including minimum wages and better work conditions, we, too, must ensure that our workers are not delegated to low-paying precarious jobs that no one else would take.
While India has recently demanded SR 1500 as minimum wage for its workers, the minimum wage for Bangladeshis has been set at SR 800, a significantly lower amount than what was initially discussed.
As more of our female migrants take up positions as maids and housekeepers, there is increased risk of various forms of exploitation, including sexual assault, which our labour attaches should work towards addressing. Meanwhile, the kafala (sponsorship of employer) system, which can be unjust and discriminatory, must be made worker-friendly.