Penniless, they return from Brunei

This Star photo taken on August 27, 2013, shows Bangladeshi workers stand in line to enter Shahjalal International Airport in Dhaka, before flying to a foreign country for jobs.
In this Star photo taken on August 27, 2013, Bangladeshi workers stand in line to enter Shahjalal International Airport in Dhaka, before flying to a foreign country for jobs.

Two migrant workers returned from Brunei penniless early today after they were cheated by two Bangladeshi recruiting agencies with the promise of lucrative salaries abroad.

Arriving at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport in Dhaka on 12:30am on a Malaysian Airlines flight, they went straight to the expatriates' welfare and overseas employment ministry and posted their complaint against the two agencies, Rabbi International and Estema International.

"We paid Tk 4.5 lakh to 5 lakh each for the visa of a gardening job in Brunei to the agencies with the promise of a monthly salary of $ 400 equivalent to Tk 30,540.

"However, we were given jobs of day labourers for only Brunei dollar 254, equivalent to Tk 14,288," Jewel Rana, one of cheated worker told The Daily Star.

At four phases, a total of 34 Bangladeshis went to Brunei through these agencies last February. Of them, a total of 30 migrants had to return home while only four are still in Brunei.  

The cheated workers had to work as day labourers instead of gardening jobs.

"We had no overtime although the agencies told us of at least two hours of overtime would be provided. Besides, we had no weekly leave," alleged Jewel who hails from Faridpur.

Several times, they approached their Brunei employer about their contractual rights but were denied outright, he mentioned.

The workers also approached the Bangladesh High Commission in Brunei to resolve their problems.

Upon the embassy's intervention, the Brunei employer agreed to give them weekly leave but declined to increase their salaries.

"We had to work for 15 to 16 hours daily. When the company rejected our demand for increased salary, we requested then to send us back home but they declined to do that," said Ramzan, another returnee from Brunei hailing from Brahmanbaria.

So, the workers left the job from April 5 and requested the High Commission to arrange their repatriation, he added.

The Bangladesh mission then arranged their air tickets to send them back home.

Yesterday, they were given Tk 5000 each from the Wage Earners' Welfare Fund of the expatriates' welfare ministry.

The ministry has decided to investigate the workers' allegation against the two agencies, said Golam Mustafa Khan, a director of Bureau of Manpower Employment and Training.

However, the alleged agencies couldn't be contacted for their comments in this regard.



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