'We had no control over the high migration cost'
The much talked about 10 recruiting agents, accused of monopoly in labour recruitment in Malaysia, said they had no control over the excessive migration cost. They held a press conference yesterday at The Westin Dhaka amid media reports accusing the agencies of monopoly and charging exorbitant fees from the workers.
According to them, some 250 other recruiting agents and brokers were involved in securing job placements from Malaysian employers as well as jobseekers in Bangladesh.
“A jobseeker does not directly come to us, rather goes to the brokers. So, when five to six levels of brokers are involved, we cannot control the cost,” said Noor Ali, managing director of Unique Eastern Pvt Ltd, one of the ten agents.
The other agents who were selected by Malaysia for labour recruitment back in 2016 are Catharsis International, ISMT Human Resources Development Ltd, Amin Tours and Travels, Al Islam Overseas, Prantik Travels & Tourism Ltd, Shanjari International, Rabbi International, Passage Associates and Career Overseas Consultants Ltd.
Malaysian newspaper, The Star, on June 22 reported that an organised syndicate led by a Bangladeshi businessman with alleged political connections with the Malaysian home ministry, charged Bangladeshi workers about MR 20,000 each (Tk 4 lakh) for jobs in Malaysia, though the actual cost is Tk 40,000.
Noor Ali said the new Malaysian government wants to change the online recruiting system, SPPA, and open it up to all recruiting agents. He clarified that the 10 agencies were selected by Malaysia and endorsed by Bangladesh.
He said during negotiations in 2015-16, Bangladesh government also wanted 745 agencies to be involved in recruitment, but Malaysia wanted to start with the 10 and then include more. However, that did not happen.
Bangladesh government wanted that each of the 10 selected agents would engage at least 10 other recruiting agents as associates, Noor Ali claimed.
“Some 200 to 250 recruiting agents worked as associates. Besides, there were some individuals as well. They secured job placements as well as the jobseekers. They conducted 80 to 90 percent of the business. We did the rest. We mostly conducted the processing [visa, medical report etc.],” he added.
Asked if the G-to-G Plus has ultimately failed in labour recruitment management because of the high migration cost, the agency owners responded in the negative.
Ruhul Amin, proprietor of Catharsis International, said in 2006-08 many of the workers were sent to Malaysia against fake jobs, and they had remained jobless, but through the online recruitment system under G-to-G Plus, there were no such fake jobs.
He said in September last year they proposed a mechanism to the expatriates' welfare ministry through which the overseas jobseekers would pay only to banks, and not brokers or agents.
They proposed Tk 120,000 as migration cost for plantation sector and Tk 160,000 in construction and factories in Malaysia.
“However, the government has not responded to it yet. If it were implemented, the high migration cost could have easily been brought down,” said Ruhul Amin.