Millions of Bangladeshi workers today earn precious foreign currencies for the national exchequer. Their contribution to national development is significant. They toil day and night in countries foreign to them. They put in their best there. In their workplaces, they miss joys of spending time with their families as they have to be alone for at least three years. They have no other recreational facilities except watching radio and TV in countries of their employment. While they do the tough jobs for their own wellbeing, their remittances keep the country's foreign exchange reserve comfortable.
Hard work put in by Bangladeshi workers has drawn attention of employers everywhere. Qatar has expressed its keenness to recruit workers from Bangladesh to help build massive Fifa World Cup 2022 facilities there. Even Saudi Arabia, which so long stopped employing workers from Bangladesh, has said, it will have a system in place shortly under which it will start recruiting manpower from Bangladesh.
As reports have it, many countries have today expressed their reservations to employ more workers from Bangladesh as laws and rules of host countries are defied by them. This writer had interactions with the Foreign Editor of The Khaleej Times in Gurgaon, India recently and had the opportunity to know why the United Arab Emirates is gradually phasing out Bangladesh workforce there. He said most of the Bangladeshis were found to be flouting the UAE rules and they have shaken the confidence of employers there. Then there are incidents of stealing and misappropriation of money from shops and other places served by Bangladeshi workers. There are instances of Bangladeshis changing their jobs secretly and resorting to illegal means despite the fact that they were there for a particular period of time fixed in their contracts.
It is time the government introduced a number of steps to see that Bangladesh's image as exporter of honest and dedicated workers is not tarnished any more. The task should not be left to the workers alone.
Many experts have suggested tough rules to be set for Bangladeshi workers before they leave the country. The Bureau of Manpower, Employment and Training (BMET) is the agency that gives permission to our workers before their departure. A worker has to show it at the airport before he is given clearance for boarding the plane.
Experts say, workers going abroad on jobs should be required to sign an official paper which will say that any violator of the host countries' laws would be deported back home by our embassies in cooperation with the host governments there. Bangladesh's missions need to be empowered to do it. Strict enforcement of such rules will greatly reduce violations of rules, as alleged by the UAE senior journalist. The provision that one cannot change his job before expiry of the contract period, as mentioned in the appointment letter, may be given priority in the document to be signed by the worker before departure. Our missions should monitor movement and activities of our workers but extreme care must be taken to avoid all kinds of harassment, often alleged by our workers.
Illegal switching of jobs by Bangladeshi workers in Saudi Arabia has been reported by the visiting Saudi Speaker. This issue needs to be addressed at the earliest.