Form platform to address wage theft
Speakers at an online dialogue yesterday said a separate platform should be established by the government so that migrant workers can complain about wage theft that they face in the host countries.
They said such a platform can be developed at the Bangladesh missions abroad, the Bureau of Manpower, Employment and Training (BMET) or at different airports.
They also stressed for launching a national-level campaign in the country to address wage theft issue.
WARBE Development Foundation with support from Migrant Forum in Asia (MFA) organised the "Online National Dialogue on Justice for Wage Theft Campaign".
Members of Bangladesh Parliamentarians' Caucus on Migration and Development (BPCMD), policymakers and government officials, researchers, NGO representatives, UN agencies, trade unions, and victims of wage theft spoke at the event.
Presenting a keynote, WARBE director Jasiya Khatoon said they have received many claims against wage theft and collected 200 of those claims with evidence between August 2020 and July 2021.
She said the returnee migrants have lost about $2,000 on an average, leaving behind wages of two to nine months.
Nurul Islam, former director of BMET, said embassies and high commissions can establish separate platform or develop app to receive wage theft complaint from migrant workers.
There should be similar opportunity at BMET, he said, adding that for wage theft claim, returnee migrants have to possess necessary documents.
Shakirul Islam, chairperson of Ovibashi Karmi Unnayan Program, said Bangladeshi migrant workers have been victims of wage theft for long while the issue came to the fore amid the pandemic as an "institutional crime".
He suggested for creating a "special desk" at each Bangladesh mission abroad to receive wage theft complaints and stressed the need for political commitment in this regard.
BPCMD Chairperson Shameem Haider Patwary said an instrument between the sending and receiving countries is required to address the wage theft issue.
Besides, a strong position of Bangladesh government against wage theft is required, he said.
BPCMD secretary general Mahjabeen Khaled said they have been raising the issue over the last one and a half years. She stressed for registering data regarding wage theft at the airports upon return of migrant workers.
She also said different stakeholders have to proactively assist the government with providing specific suggestions to work on the issue.
Trade Union leader Abul Hossain said a nationwide movement incorporating the workers should be launched.
Andalib Elias, director general (multilateral economic affairs) of the foreign ministry, said the foreign minister has been trying to address issues and challenges faced by Bangladeshi migrant workers in different countries and support them.