Bangladeshi workers cheated in Libya | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, January 09, 2010 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, January 09, 2010

Bangladeshi workers cheated in Libya

46 left with no jobs or salaries for 6 months

At least 46 Bangladeshi workers in Libya have been passing days with no jobs or salaries for around six months, which placed them and their families at home in total misery.
“We are living in a shabby abandoned camp with no sanitation or water facilities. Our company used to give us some money for food, but now it is stopped,” Kaiser Ahmed, one of the workers facing hardship in Libya, told The Daily Star over phone on Sunday.
These workers went to Libya to work for Rastota General Constructions through recruiting agency Orbit Consultant early April last year. Only for first two months up to mid-June, they were paid lump sums, said the workers from the North African country.
From then on, the company did not pay any wage for four months. From November the Rastota neither provided any work nor any wages or food, water or sanitation, said Kaiser from Al 'Aziziyah, a northwestern city in Libya.
They now seek for day-labour jobs. “If we can manage one, we live on it. Otherwise, we go hungry. Sometimes we boil leaves to eat,” said Kaiser.
Relatives, meanwhile, are seriously anxious for the workers each of who spent over Tk 2 lakh to go there. But now they can neither send home money nor manage a good living.
Bangladesh started afresh sending manpower to Libya from January last year. In a year, it sent around 24,000 workers, but some malpractices were reported often in the oil-rich country that needs around a million foreign workers for huge development projects by 2014.
Kaiser said a worker was supposed to get 360 Libyan Dinar (1 Dinar is equivalent to Tk 55.88) a month for an eight-hour workday. But for the first two months, they were paid only 230 Dinar a month each though they worked for 11 hours a day.
They all have to use open spaces as toilets with no sanitation facilities. “We are gradually getting sick…please help us get jobs or get back home,” said Jahanur, another worker.
The migrant workers said a Libyan contractor and a Bangladeshi manpower broker named Salam ate up the salaries they got from the Rastota. Salam also threatened them of dire consequences if they go to the Bangladesh embassy in Tripoli, they said.
Meanwhile, Jahanur's wife Shirin Akter said, “Jahanur has not sent a single penny, though interest on the money [borrowed to send Jahanur abroad] is going up every day. How long can a man survive without job and salary?”
Contacted, Ahsan Kibria Siddiqui, first secretary (labour) of Bangladesh embassy there, said the group of workers met him and he took the matter to the Libyan labour ministry.
“We said the workers should either be provided with jobs or compensated,” he said. The labour ministry said Rastota had stopped its project due to fund crisis, but will soon restart it and employ the workers, Ahsan Kibria added.
Orbit Consultant General Manager Belal Uddin said they are aware of the problem and trying to solve it.
Asked how long it will take, he said, “I exactly don't know. Our boss Shahjahan, who is now in the Saudi Arabia, knows it all.”

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