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Speakers: Good governance of labour migration is key

  • Published at 12:25 am March 13th, 2019
Labour Migration
Speakers at the conference mahmud Hossain Opu/Dhaka Tribune

In the last fiscal year, expatriate Bangladeshi workers have sent home around $15 bn. This was is 17% more than the remittance sent in the previous financial year.

In the late seventies and early eighties, Bangladesh began exporting labour to the Middle East and onto South East Asia.

In the last fiscal year, expatriate Bangladeshi workers have sent home around $15 bn. This was is 17% more than the remittance sent in the previous financial year.

The amount is the second highest for Bangladesh in a year behind $15.31bn received in 2014-15.

The industry has grown exponentially but so have the number of problems. In a statement, the International Labour Organization (ILO) stated that vulnerable Bangladeshi migrants often face numerous challenges, such as - high agency or ‘fixer’ fees for low skilled jobs, low wages abroad, lack of information on migration opportunities and risks, discrimination, exploitation and abuse while overseas, and insufficient services to protect the rights of workers.

At a discussion on the governance of the industry and ways to move forward, on Tuesday, Rahnuma Salam Khan, Office-in-Charge of ILO Migration Project in a presentation   said: “The Government of Bangladesh and stakeholders, including social partners and employment service providers, have the capacity to adopt and implement frameworks pertaining to labour migrants including an improved complaints mechanism, social security legislation, and support services for migrants.”

The two-day conference “Labour Migration Governance: Achievements, Lessons Learned and Way Forward,” was organized by the ILO where the organization shared achievements of the project “Application of the Migration Policy for Decent Work for Migrant Workers” at the Westin hotel.  

Speakers at the conference discussed improving the overall management of labour migration and ensure social protection and decent employment conditions for all Bangladeshi migrant workers.

State Minister from the Ministry of Expatriates Welfare and Overseas Employment Imran Ahmed urged everyone to take advantage of Bangladesh’s large population for capacity building of skilled labour for migration.

“The migrant workers working blue collar jobs abroad send 90% of their income back to Bangladesh.

“Our government is very keen to reduce the migration cost for migrant workers, and we are going to develop an information cell in the union level digital information center to disseminate the information on fair, orderly and safe migration,” said Imran Ahmed.

“I appreciate the horizontal and vertical policy coherence that the government of Bangladesh has managed to achieve in the implementation of the policy – such as, through the social dialogue of the Labour Migration Forum and decentralization of responsibility to the grassroots level,” said Senior Adviser of Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, Suzanne Mueller.

Emphasising on the promotion of decent work, Country Director of ILO Tuomo Poutiainen said: “ILO has a constitutional mandate from 1919 to protect migrant workers. The organization has pioneered the development of international labour standards to guide labour migration policy and protection of migrant workers.”

An Android based app “Jene, Shune, Bidesh Jai” was officially launched at the conference to increase awareness among the people who want to migrate abroad for work.

UN Residence Coordinator Mia Seppo, and ILO Programme Officer Asif Munier also spoke at the conference.

The project is supported by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation as well as Ministry of Expatriate Welfare and Overseas Employment (MoEWOE) to develop an integrated Migrant Worker Information and Management System (MWIMS) and Labour Market Information System (LMIS) for better labour migration governance.