Archives January 2020

Malaysia-Bangladesh to Finalise Zero-Cost Recruitment Deal Soon

MALAYSIA and Bangladesh are close to finalising the zero-cost recruitment agreement that will facilitate the hiring of Bangladeshi migrant workers into the country soon.

“I’m sending the Malaysia-Bangladesh Joint Working Group to Dhaka, Bangladesh, soon to iron out the remaining issues on the zero-cost recruitment agreement.

“Almost all matters have been settled and we have come very close to finalise it,” said Human Resources (HR) Minister M Kulasegaran (picture).

“The Bangladeshi government has said they won’t be sending workers without due compliance and there must be due compliance to the necessary provision, just like what we reached with Nepal,” he added.

Malaysia is looking to establish another zero-cost recruitment agreement for migrant workers to eliminate forced labour and avoid possible trade sanctions from importing countries.

The new terms agreed by Bangladesh and Malaysia would be similar to the recruitment agreement signed with Nepal last year.

Under the agreement, employers are responsible for the recruitment service charges, two-way airfare, visa fees, health check-up, security screening and levy charges.

Meanwhile, Kulasegaran urged local rubber glove makers to immediately submit the Social Compliance Audit Report (SCAR) as importing countries continue to seek Malaysia’s resolution on the issue of sustainability recruitment.

He said as the world’s largest producer and leading exporter of rubber gloves, Malaysian companies should adhere to the highest standard of social compliance and commit to the welfare of migrant workers.

“We have been discussing with industry players for the past two years to encourage them to speed up the submission of their audit report, which must come before Jan 1, 2021.

“With the pressure from the importing countries, primarily the US, they should voluntarily be having it now to address the issues,” Kulasegaran said after a town hall session for rubber industry in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

“We are the largest rubber glove manufacturer in the world, so we should play by the rules,” he added.

Last October, the US Customs and Border Protection blocked imported goods from five companies that were accused of practising forced labour, including Malaysia’s glove maker, WRP Asia Pacific Sdn Bhd.

The US Customs said imported goods that are wholly produced or in part of forced labour are illegal to be imported under the US law. The forced labour in its definition includes convict labour, indentured labour and forced or indentured child labour.

The instruction by the US Customs came after about 2,000 of WRP Asia Pacific’s migrant workers from Bangladesh and Nepal staged a three-day strike for being withheld from their salaries early last year.

The blockage also has taken a toll on WRP Asia Pacific as it has temporarily suspended its business operations in December and appointed interim liquidators.

The SCAR is an internal mechanism commissioned by a company that covers all of the requirements under the purview of the HR Ministry.

The audit report includes the validation of the employees’ wages, Social Security Organisation and Employees Provident Fund contributions being paid on time, implementation of allocated leave entitlement, and housing accommodation for workers.

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Recruitment in Malaysia: Bangladesh won’t send workers unless cost is cut, says minister

DHAKA (ANN): The government doesn’t want to send Bangladeshi workers to Malaysia before a low-cost and transparent system of recruitment comes into place, Expatriates’ Welfare and Overseas Employment Minister Imran Ahmad said.

“If I allow high charges for recruitment (of Bangladeshi workers abroad), I will betray my constituents, ” he told a press conference at the ministry on Sunday (Jan 5).

The biggest challenge facing overseas job sector is the high recruitment cost.

In 2016 and 2018, Bangladeshi workers were charged up to Tk 4 lakh (RM19,000) for jobs in Malaysia, he said at the event organised by Reporters for Bangladeshi Migrants.

Malaysia suspended recruitment of Bangladeshi workers in September 2018, alleging that a cartel of 10 Bangladeshi recruiting agents patronised by several influential politicians of previous Malaysian government was charging exorbitant sums of money from migrant workers.

Despite several negotiation meetings between officials of the two countries over the last year, the market has not opened yet.

Members of the cartel had passed the blame onto illegal manpower brokers in Malaysia and Bangladesh.

Imran Ahmad has been expressing similar views, but he has not taken any concrete action to legalise the brokers or eliminate them from the recruitment system.

Asked, the minister said if the system was transparent, the brokers’ involvement would have disappeared. But he didn’t clarify what he meant by a “transparent system”.

He said the government had asked the recruiting agencies to recognise the brokers. The ministry will get them registered and will be able to hold them accountable when they do something illegal.

“My prime target is to ensure that the workers can go abroad by spending an amount set (by the authorities).”

He didn’t say what that sum could be.

According to a 2015 World Bank study, Bangladeshi migrants pay the highest amount of money for recruitment, but get one of the lowest wages. Researchers say the workers often remain in debt.

In many cases, they are sent abroad with forged work visas and then remain undocumented or return home empty-handed.

Globally, the UN is promoting zero cost migration, which means that the fees incurred due to migration will be borne by the employer. Neighbouring Nepal follows this policy and has a corresponding labour agreement with Malaysia.

Imran has never spoken of ensuring zero cost migration.

Expatriates’ Welfare Secretary Salim Reza said a total of 701,000 Bangladeshis migrated abroad for jobs last year, which is 51,000 more than that of the previous year. Forty-four percent of those who migrated last year were skilled workers.

Besides, 111,000 were women, and some 50% of them were either divorced or left by their husbands. This has prompted the government to ensure better protection of women migrants, Salim said.

Abuses faced by women migrants in Saudi Arabia were widely reported at home and abroad. Salim said they negotiated with Saudi Arabia and ensured that the employers accused of abusing women migrants were brought to justice.

He said the remittance sent by Bangladeshi migrants last year was US$18bil, which is 16.2% more than that of the previous year. He added that the growth can be attributed to the government’s 2% incentive on the remittance.

A total of 214 recruiting agencies were accused last year of not ensuring protection of female domestic workers in Saudi Arabia and violation of laws, he said. Licence of one agency was revoked and two other agencies were suspended.

A total of 3,658 dead bodies of Bangladeshi migrants arrived last year, he said. – The Daily Star/Asia News Network

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