• Sunday, Aug 14, 2022
  • Last Update : 04:24 pm

Migrant workers withdraw siege after talks with expatriate minister

  • Published at 12:45 pm September 23rd, 2020
Migrant workers gather in MEWO
File photo of Migrant workers gather in front of the office of Ministry of Expatriates' Welfare and Overseas in Dhaka on Tuesday, September 23, 2020 Rajib Dhar/Dhaka Tribune

They have been continuing demonstration for the third day

Migrant workers have talked to Expatriates' Welfare and Overseas Employment Minister Imran Ahmad and left the place hours after they laid siege to the ministry.

Hundreds of desperate workers, who have been demonstrating for the third day on Wednesday in Dhaka demanding to expedite their return to their workplaces in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) with available tickets and flights, besieged the ministry on the Eskaton Road this morning.

A delegation of five workers met the minister and placed their demands including extension of visa and work permit.

Later, the minister told reporters that the ministry already sent a note verbale to the KSA government via the Foreign Ministry seeking visa and work permit extension of the stranded workers. 

He, however, said they have to wait until Sunday to know the decision of the Saudi Arabian government.

Immigrant workers gather in front of the office of Saudi Arabian Airlines at Pan Pacific Sonargaon hotel in Dhaka for tickets on Tuesday, September 23, 2020 Syed Zakir Hossain /Dhaka Tribune

Mohiuddin Ashik, one of the delegation members, told Dhaka Tribune that they requested the minister to take steps so that they do not need to pay extra to renew their work permit.

He said it will not be possible to give a large amount of money for work permit renewal sitting in Bangladesh. 

"We also demanded that the airlines give our flight schedules without charging extra fares for our tickets."

The minister, however, asked them to meet him on Monday again over the issues.

Also Read- Migrant workers anxious over lack of Saudi Arabia air tickets

Meanwhile, another group of demonstrators met Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen at his office in the capital after hundreds of them took position in front of the ministry.

Migrant worker Jalal Uddin said the foreign minister called a group of five people among the protesters whose visas have expired.

The minister, however, assured them that the Bangladesh government will discuss the visa extension with the kingdom authorities.

Several thousand migrant workers gather at Karwan Bazar

Earlier in the morning, around 5,000 stranded migrant workers gathered in front of the office of Saudi Arabian Airlines at Pan Pacific Sonargaon Dhaka in Karwan Bazar area and vented their frustration over their failure to secure return tickets to the kingdom.

Many of the migrant workers said they need to return to their workplaces in the Middle Eastern country immediately as their visas or work permits will expire in September and next month.

Immigrant workers gather in front of the office of Saudi Arabian Airlines at Pan Pacific Sonargaon hotel in Dhaka for tickets on Tuesday, September 23, 2020  Syed Zakir Hossain /Dhaka Tribune

They are afraid of losing their jobs if they cannot join their workplaces in due time.

In March, the kingdom suspended international flights to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.

On September 15, Saudi Arabia announced that it would partially lift its suspension on international flights to allow "exceptional categories" of citizens and residents to travel.

In the wake of the demonstration of the Bangladeshi expatriates, Bangladesh has sought one more extension of three months from the kingdom for Bangladeshi valid visa holders and their Iqama (valid work permit) in an effort to help workers return to their work.

Meanwhile, the Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh (CAAB) has decided to permit Saudi Arabian Airlines to operate more flights to take back the migrant workers to their workplaces in the Gulf country.

On Monday, Biman Bangladesh Airlines said Saudi Arabia finally gave a green light to the airlines to operate flights to and from the country from October 1.

It also said landing permission was required before beginning seat allocation, but Saudi Arabia is yet to provide it. As a result, the schedule for the flights cannot be announced right now.

The flight schedule would be announced as soon as landing permission is received and all concerned, including passengers, would be informed, Biman added.