[Bangladesh] Good governance increases expatriate worker earnings

Expatriate workers have sent home approximately $15billion in the last fiscal year, a 17 per cent increase on the year before, Dhaka Tribune reports.

The amount reportedly marks the highest expatriate earnings in a single year for Bangladesh since $15.31billion was returned in 2014-15. Bangladesh first exported labour to the Middle East, and then to South East Asia, in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

As the migrant worker industry has grown, so have associated problems. The International Labour Organization (ILO) put out a statement saying that Bangladeshi migrants can be vulnerable to pitfalls 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 conference organised by the ILO - “Labour Migration Governance: Achievements, Lessons Learned and Way Forward” - members shared the achievements the “Application of the Migration Policy for Decent Work for Migrant Workers” project.

Office-in-Charge of ILO Migration Project, Rahnuma Salam Khan, 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.”

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

Imran Ahmed - State Minister from the Ministry of Expatriates Welfare and Overseas Employment - spoke of the advantage of Bangladesh’s large population and its potential for skilled migrant labour.

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

With an empasis on decent work, Tuomo Poutiainen - Country Director of ILO - 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.”