260 more workers return
At least 260 workers returned home from abroad with special travel passes yesterday after facing various problems in the wake of the global economic meltdown.
Of them, 26 workers returned from Malaysia while 148 from Saudi Arabia, 50 from the United Arab Emirates, 14 from Maldives, 20 from Pakistan, one from Oman and one from Singapore.
Meanwhile, two ministers--foreign and expatriates' welfare--are going to Malaysia but their appointment with Malaysian counterparts for discussion on the Bangladeshi labour issue on the sideline of Malaysia's ruling party general assembly are yet to be fixed.
Foreign Minister Dipu Moni leaves for Kuala Lumpur today while Expatriate Welfare Minister Khandker Mosharraf Hossain who is now attending an ILO meeting in Geneva will join her there.
“The expatriates' welfare minister has a plan to meet Malaysia's human resources minister and home minister. But, their appointment is yet to be fixed. We can be sure after going to Malaysia,” said an official at the expatriates' welfare ministry.
“Malaysia's ruling party Umno has invited our prime minister to attend its general assembly (beginning today). We are basically representing the premier there,” Dipu Moni told reporters at a press conference at the foreign ministry yesterday.
Malaysia on March 10 cancelled work visas of 55,000 Bangladeshis, and asked employers to retrench the foreign workers. As a result, on an average 100 to 150 Bangladeshi workers are returning from the country everyday.
Thousands of Bangladeshis are living in precarious conditions in Malaysia caused by malpractices in the recruitment systems and retrenchments.
Dipu Moni said, “There might be informal discussion on the labour issue. We are hopeful that our workers whose visas have been cancelled will be able to go there in near future."
She said they would try to hold formal discussion, but if it is not possible, they would hold it in near future. All the labour related problems could not be solved immediately but the government will work for further strengthening relations with Malaysia.
Asked about the government's measures to ensure rights of Bangladeshi workers abroad, Dipu Moni said, “We are very much aware of their rights, but it cannot be ensured in all respects. We are discussing with Baira (Bangladesh Association of International Recruiting Agencies) on the recruitment system.”
She said global financial recession will affect the overseas employments on temporary basis but at the same time some positive signs may also emerge for us.
Kuwait withdrew the restrictions on job transfer of Bangladeshis, Oman opened market for semi-skilled workers while Bahrain for skilled manpower. Many workers are going to Libya now, while Jordan, Egypt, Mali and Sudan are becoming good workplaces for Bangladeshis.