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Issue 4 · December 2011 Facing the Challenges of Labour Migration from Bangladesh Short-term labour migration has become and to ensure their protection. In the one of the core foreign currency earning meantime, the Bangladesh government ratified sectors in Bangladesh . Yet, development the 1990 UN Convention on the Rights of All of this sector is being challenged by the lack of Migrant Workers and Members of Their rights based legal support, inadequate policies, Families (ICMW) without reservation. and protracted implementation process. The Therefore, it became necessary and expedient number of female labour migration is rising to reflect the Convention in the national but skilled female migration, such as nursing, is in need of appropriate government policy for its expansion. Recently the government has Under these circumstances, in 2009 the established Probashi Kallyan Bank as a Ministry of Expatriates' Welfare and Overseas specialised financial institution for migrants to Employment (EWOE) formed an inter- facilitate remittance transfer, provide ministerial committee including civil society migration loan and expand investment representatives to update the law . The opportunities. However, the Ministry and its committee suggested revision of four clauses line agencies lack sufficient budget and human of the law. The Law Commission of resources. Moreover, high migration cost Bangladesh initiated another review process. A undermines the gains from the sector. In order high level committee comprising government to derive benefit from this sector, conducive functionaries from the EWOE Ministry and its policy and proper implantation of those are line agency, the Law commission, and legal and crucial. To facilitate this process, 2012-2021 migration experts drafted a new law. In April should be declared as the Decade of 2011, the expert committee handed over the draft to the Ministry of EWOE. The new Mig ration and Overseas Major Reforms Initiated
Employment Act 2011 aims to govern migration by ensuring migrants rights. It The Overseas Employment Act 2011
upholds the principle of non-discrimination Bangladesh began participating in the and makes provisions for emergency return of international short term contract labour market in the mid 1970s. In 1982 an Emigration Ordinance was enacted, helping Goodwill of all involved with this the Emigration Act 1922 to efficiently monitor sector is necessary to make labour and regulate emigration of workers from the country. This law was framed when overseas employers used to offer decent wages, - Ambassador of Bangladesh in Malaysia holidays, yearly vacations, overtime, and commission to recruiting agencies as part of migrants in case of crisis in destination these labour recruitment deals. During the last country. To reduce fraudulent practices and to 3 decades, dynamics of labour migration has ensure accountability of recruiting agencies, changed dramatically. Major countries of the law introduces the concept of renewal of destination for Bangladeshi labour migrants, license on the basis of performance. It creates such as Gulf and Southeast Asian states, have legal provision for functioning sub-agents. become a ‘buyers' market'. Workers are With prior permission from the government, frequently cheated by intermediaries. They are recruiting agencies will be able to appoint exploited both at the origin and destination subagents and will provide identification to the countries at every stage of migration. These subagents working for them. The recruiting trends have become the rule rather than the agency will be liable if the subagents commit exception. The 1982 Emigration Ordinance misconduct. In the past migrants could not go became inadequate to uphold migrants' rights directly to court against the misconduct of a Facing the Challenges of Labour Migration from Bangladesh recruiting agency. The new draft law creates scope for a commits to reducing irregular flows and increasing the migrant to file a civil and criminal case in any court if the scope of regular migration from all areas of Bangladesh Protector of Emigrant (the concerned government at a rational cost. It commits to protecting the rights, official) fails to file a case within the prescribed period. dignity and security of its workers within and outside of Earlier cases could be filed in four special labour courts the country, and to ensuring the social protection of the of the country. The draft law has gone through civil families left behind and the assets of the migrants. The society consultation, and is now being presented to the policy reiterates to consider misconduct in the Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs. recruitment process as an act against the national interest Enactment of this law will bring qualitative changes in of the country. Most importantly it vouches for the the governance of labour migration. Civil society needs allocation of greater resources to strengthen existing to be vigilant so that vested interest groups cannot change institutional infrastructure for the implementation of the any important section of the draft while they are placed before the cabinet.
Challenges and prospects: Although the Policy has been in Overseas Employment Policy
place for last five years, successive governments have not With persistent demand from civil society, the developed any comprehensive action plan to implement Overseas Employment Policy was enacted on 05 it. The Government is pursuing individual sections of the November 2006. The policy, first of its kind in South policy in a piecemeal manner. There is no monitoring and Asia, ensures the right of the Bangladeshi male and evaluation process built in to the policy. Given the current female workers to freely choose quality employment. competition in global labour markets as well as the need Within this Policy the government of Bangladesh for better protection of the rights of workers, it is Labour migration is an important part of the current global economy. In 2010, around 214 million people were 2 residing outside their country of origin and they transferred globally USD 441 billion in remittances . Migrants also transfer skills, ideas and knowledge, establish interpersonal relationships among origin and destination countries and their people. All, including the transit countries, can benefit from migration if the right kinds of policies are in place. Bangladesh is one of the major labour sending countries of the world. Since 1976 more than 7.1 million Bangladeshis have gone abroad by taking overseas employment. The diaspora living in the Western countries, particularly in the USA and UK, is estimated to be 1.50 million; a large number of them maintain a strong economic, social and cultural relationship with Bangladesh. Migration is the highest foreign exchange earning sector of the country. In 2009, earning from migrant remittances was 2 times higher than the net income of the garments sector and 9 times higher than foreign direct investment to the country. It helped the country to maintain a balance of payments surplus for six consecutive years in a row from 2005 to 2010 . Goldman Sachs, the renowned investment banking and securities firm, identified Bangladesh as one of the Next Eleven countries having high potential to become one of the world's emerging economies in the 21st century . Migrant remittance plays a crucial role in achieving such status. Forced return of migrants due to the global financial crisis and the political uncertainties in the Middle East, particularly in Libya, present another challenge for the governance of labour migration. The government needs to develop its capacity to cope with such unexpected crises. Since the outbreak of the crisis the government of Bangladesh has had to evacuate 36,000 Bangladeshi workers from Libya. The international community bore some of the costs, but the bulk has been borne by the government by taking a loan from the World Bank. Social and economic reintegration of these returnees is a new responsibility on the shoulders of the government and the private sector.
Bangladesh has recently been experiencing growth in the migration of female domestic workers to the Gulf, particularly due to a ban and other types of disincentives from traditional female labour sending countries such as the Philippines, Indonesia and Sri Lanka. From less than 1% in 1990, in 2010, 7.09% of Bangladeshi migrants were women . It is important to respect women's right to movement for international employment. Nonetheless, a major dilemma for the government is how to ensure protection of female domestic workers in the private spheres of the home which the labour laws of those countries do not cover.
Bangladesh has recently ratified the1990 UN Convention on the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families (ICMW). It is trying to provide some leadership in regional processes including in Colombo and Abu Dhabi to place some of the labour issues in a multilateral forum from their existing bilateral mode. This policy brief highlights reforms undertaken in Bangladesh and current challenges of labour migration from Bangladesh and possible ways to handle those challenges.
Challenges and prospects: Male migration from Bangladesh has been declining since 2009, whilst female migration is on the rise. However, female migrants face several problems in the country of destination. In many cases the females are confined to the residence of the employers and cannot communicate with others. They remain unreachable in case of an emergency or threat. The Philippines has put a temporary ban of female migration. Indonesia has also stopped sending females to Saudi Arabia. Sri Lanka is also trying to expand its male labour market and reduce the flow of female migration. Under such circumstances, Bangladesh needs to be extra conscious regarding the security of its female migrant workers. Multilateral agreements involving all receiving and sending countries may go a long way in this respect. The government also needs to sign the Domestic Workers' Convention of the ILO 2011. In the A potential migrant worker compulsory 21-day government training, females should have country-specific brochures which will include general problems and redress mechanisms along with norms and rules of the particular job in the country of Government can appoint functionaries in every subdistrict to create skill wise database of potential migrants. These details should be The Probashi Kallyan Bank
connected with relevant ministries, line Probashi Kalyan Bank (Migrant Welfare Bank) was agencies and foreign missions. Foreign established in October 2010 through a parliamentary Act. employers can select workers from the The Bank has three aims: low cost, quick transfer of remittances, financing labour migration and financing investment loans for returnee migrants and their families. - Ambassador of Bangladesh in Malaysia The total capital of the Bank is BDT100 million, 95% of which was received from the Wage Earners' Welfare essential to develop a target-oriented action plan. Such Fund. This is a fund mostly generated by the contribution action plan should ensure the implementation of the of departing migrants and the Government of overseas employment policy with inbuilt monitoring and Bangladesh is the repository of the Fund. evaluation systems to achieve the goals of the policy, as well as for suggesting incremental changes in the policy. Before migration, one should have enough idea Policy on Female Migration
about the destination country. He should know Since 1981 the government of Bangladesh has imposed bans and restrictions on the migration of lowly how to speak, how to move on the roads. I think skilled female workers. With continuous pressure from if government provides training on these issues select civil society bodies, the government relaxed to workers before going abroad, they will not restrictions on migration of unskilled and semi-skilled face problems like we do. women in 2003. Now lowly skilled women can work - Mohsin Hasan, Bangladeshi worker in Malaysia abroad as the principal migrant. Siddiqui, Tasneem, 2006, ‘Protection of Bangladeshi migrants RMMRU Policy Brief 6, Probashi Kallayn Bank: Innovative through good governance' in Merchants of Labour (ed.) Approaches for Remittance Transfer, Migration Finance Loan Christiane Kuptsch; International Labour Organisation: Geneva and Investment Loans, RMMRU: Dhaka Siddiqui, Tasneem, 2006, ILO International labour migration from Reyes, Carola, 2011 (upcoming), Bringing Migration and Refugee Bangladesh: A decent work perspective, ILO Working Paper 66, Communities in the National Policy Agenda of Bangladesh: The International Labour Organisation: Geneva Role of Specialised Civil Society Organisations, RMMRU: Dhaka UN Convention on the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members Siddiqui, Tasneem, 2010, Migration Patterns and Trends of of Their Families (ICMW), 1990, United Nations: New York Bangladesh, RMMRU Policy Paper, RMMRU: Dhaka The Emigration Ordinance, 1982, Ministry of Law, Government of Fhamida Yasmin, 2010, Gender Responsiveness of Bangladesh the People's Republic of Bangladesh: Dhaka Overseas Employment Policy: Implication of Female Migration, RMMRU Occasional Paper 21, RMMRU: Dhaka Bangladesh Overseas Employment Policy, 2006, Ministry of Law, Government of the People's Republic of Bangladesh: Dhaka Facing the Challenges of Labour Migration from Bangladesh Challenges and prospects: It is of immense importance Bangladesh and in the countries of destination. Recently, that the Probashi Kallyan Bank achieves its desired goals. the country has been facing stiff competition from Its stated goal of providing loans to departing migrants newly emerging labour sending countries of South and has been tried in the Philippines, Sri Lanka and Indonesia. Southeast Asia. The global financial crisis and people's All these countries, otherwise reasonably successful in upheaval in the Gulf and North African countries have governing labour migration, have failed miserably when it negatively affected labour migration from Bangladesh. In comes to migration finance loans. Migration loans from 2008, 800,000 Bangladeshis went abroad for work . banks in these countries have ended in defaults. In However, in 2009 and 2010 the number came down to Bangladesh, four remittance earning banks introduced half its original figure. It is expected that in the coming migration financing loan programmes. They faced years, workers from some African countries will also difficulties in reaching their targets. Therefore, the participate in the Gulf labour market along with the challenges for Probashi Kallyan Bank are enormous. As newly entering Southeast Asian countries. This indicates a specialised financial institution, this bank must forge that the competition for entry in to the labour market is partnerships with commercial banks and non- going to be tougher.
government organisations in processing, disbursement and recovery of loans. It can also use the extensive Migration Sector in National Development Plans
network of post offices in remittance transfer . Most Studies have found that a continuous and constant importantly the operation of the banking should be flow of remittances has a multiplier effect on the rural completely automated . areas of Bangladesh. Enterprises established by returnee migrants or their family members are generating employment and creating markets for the locally produced goods and services. Micro-level research finds Major Challenges of Labour
increased consumption patterns in migrant families than Migration
non-migrant families . Moreover, remittances also enable migrant-led households to access better education and Bangladesh mainly participates in the semi- and healthcare services than non-migrant families . unskilled labour market. Over the last 5 years only 0.14% Nevertheless, the migration sector is one of the least of its labour force belonged to the professional category, attended sectors in the national development plan. 26.15% were skilled and the remaining 73.69% were semi Neither the five-year development plan nor the 10-year or low skilled . Globally, unskilled workers share the most perspective plan has identified migration as a way for unprotected, exploited workforce. Bangladeshi workers enhancing development. Civil society has persuaded the are no exception. Non-payment or delayed payment of Ministry of EWOE to incorporate migration as a thrust wages, physical violence and arbitrary deportation are sector in the development plan. However, the final draft common experience for a large number of Bangladeshi of the 6th Five-year Development Plan does not have a unskilled and semiskilled workers. separate section on migration. The Ministry has been able to incorporate the issue of migration in different A significant proportion of Bangladeshi workers become irregular due to reasons operational both in Potential female migrant workers after the skill development training Facing the Challenges of Labour Migration from Bangladesh Inadequate Resource Allocation
Many of our people are working in such The Ministry of EWOE is the most important companies that didn't bring them here and apparatus within the government that manages become irregular workers. Some people leave migration. However, the ministry suffers from severe recruiting company for more salary; they also resource shortages. The Ministry and its line agencies have a shortage of skilled and competent human become illegal. The source of all these problems resources as well as inadequate infrastructure. Due to is their high migration cost. these pressing issues many of the functions for - Ambassador of Bangladesh in Malaysia protecting and promoting the rights and welfare of migrant workers cannot be delivered by the ministry. guidelines for encouraging private institutions. Although Lack of Skilled Human Resource
more than three years have passed, recommendations of At present the Bureau of Manpower, Employment the committee are yet to be implemented. and Training (BMET), the line agency of the Ministry of Challenges of High Labour Migration Cost
EWOE, manages 38 Technical Training Centres (TTCs) The high cost of migration is the result of several in Bangladesh. These training centres target both local as causes persisting at both countries of origin and well as international employment. There is a persistent destination. Visa trading and involvement of tension in administrating these training centres as two intermediaries at different stages spiral migration cost separate ministries , Ministry of Labour and EWOE, run and the whole cost has to be borne by the migrants. For these training centres under the supervision of BMET. example, a work permit issued by the destination About 2,000 trainers from these centres need urgent country's government is immediately sold at the local capacity building training to conduct modern courses. market. Changing hands for 2/3 times when a Again, most of these TTCs face major budget deficits. Bangladeshi recruiter buys the work permit, he has to pay Moreover, the Bangladesh Technical Education Board as much as USD 2,000 upfront. On the other hand, (BTEB) of the Education Ministry, responsible for Bangladeshi recruiting agencies, local intermediaries and coordinating training and approving the training dishonest public sector functionaries retain their margin curricula within these centres, lacks adequate human from the same amount. Under these circumstances resources to improve their quality. when a migrant secures a visa s/he has to pay the entire Institutional Hindrances in Promoting Migration of
amount which is much higher than the actual cost. Due to Highly Skilled Nurses
lower wage rate it takes more than a year for a migrant Migration of professionals from Bangladesh is worker to recover the money spent to acquire the work minimal. In 2010, only 387 professionals migrated for overseas jobs . One significant way for the country to Way forward
increase the number of professionals is to increase the number of nurses for overseas employment. Although • To ensure effective streamlining of labour migration worldwide nurses are in great demand, Bangladesh is the from Bangladesh, the government should declare only country that has one nurse for every three doctors . migration as a ‘thrust sector' for the economy and Nurse migration from Bangladesh is insignificant in should allocate the equivalent of at least 0.5 percent of number as local demand is scarcely met. On the other remittances earned per fiscal year to the sector. hand, existing government guidelines for nurse education Migration should be incorporated in the national are one of the major hindrances for the private sector in development plans for effective management of the offering nursing courses. In 2008, the Ministry of Health migration sector. and Family Welfare formed a high level taskforce to • The Ministry of EWOE should be redesigned with at review the 1983 Bangladesh Nursing Council Ordinance least five separate departments, such as Facilitation and existing curricula to evaluate the existing guidelines. and Regulation of Recruitment; Rights and Welfare; The taskforce highlighted the need for massive Labour Attaché Management; Long Ter m investment in this sector by government and private Bangladeshi Affairs and Policy and Research. sector institutions along with major changes in the Resource allocation for institutional reorganisation must be ensured from the revenue budget and necessary infrastructure and human resource I took 180,000 BDT from my father-in-law and development to be borne from the development then migrated to Malaysia with that money. I am in Malaysia for 3 years and 4 months. My hope of building a house will never come true. • Lack of coordination among the training-providing I came here with a lot of hopes, which will not institution and concerned ministries must be be fulfilled. addressed through inter-ministerial and inter-agency coordination. All the TTCs should be equipped with - Saiful Islam, Bangladeshi worker in Malaysia P R O T I F O L O N
different international forums such as the Global We have primary schools, colleges in all villages Forum on Migration and Development. A multilateral or in upazillas. If we can provide training in approach would help to stop visa trading at the evening shift in these institutions, I think we can destination country. The respective governments of somewhat manage the problem. Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Kuwait are taking steps to - Ambassador of Bangladesh in Malaysia stop this trade. Bangladesh should be involved with these sending countries to find effective solutions. In the Bangladesh context, adequate legal steps should be updated training equipment. The capacity of the taken to reduce the number of intermediaries to lower trainers should be regularly updated with continuous the high labour migration cost.
Training of Trainers. The Bangladesh Technical Education Board (BTEB) should set a minimum standard of training considering demand in the This policy brief sheds light on important reforms and international market. Resources should be allocated actions concerning labour migration. It is clear that the for promoting skilled human resources at the government has undertaken serious reforms in certain grassroots both under revenue and development areas but new areas are constantly emerging. The government may consider declaring 2012-2021 the • In order to promote skilled nurse migration from the decade of migration and undertake necessary policies country, the government should ease conditionalities and programmes to face the emerging challenges in that reduce the scope of private sector participation in migration sector and to promote safe labour migration nursing education. Updated training curricula and from Bangladesh.
quality of teaching should be given emphasis. Nurses should come from all educational disciplines instead End Note:
of being limited to a science background for enrolling 1. Representatives from Ministry of Expatriates' Welfare and in BSc nursing. In order to ensure knowledge in a Overseas Employment, Ministry of Home Affairs, Ministry of necessary science course, students with a non-science Labour, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Manusher Jonno Foundation and Refugee and Migratory Movements Research Unit were background have to undertake a pre-course in those members of the committee.
2. UNFPA 2011 and World Bank remittance data 2011.
• The issue of high visa cost should be placed in 3. Siddiqui, T, et al (2010), Targeting Good Governance: Incorporation of Migration in the 6th Five Year Plan, draft policy paper prepared by the RMMRU.
4. Global Economics Paper no 134, O'Neil, James et al. (2005) RMMRU Policy Brief 7, 2011, Institutional and Regulatory 5. BMET data on female migration, 2011, Reforms for Migration and Remittance Management, 6. Policy Dialogue on Probashi Kallyan Bank: Developing Strategies for Serving Migrants held on 29 May 2011 organised by the RMMRU Siddiqui, Tasneem, 2011 (upcoming), Impact of High Cost of 7. BMET data on skill wise migration, 2011, Migration: The Bangladesh Case, UNESCAP: Thailand 8. BMET Data on country wise Migration, 2011, _ World Migration Report 2010, 2011, International 9. Siddqui, Tasneem (2011), Impact of Migration on Poverty and Organization for Migration: Geneva Development, (unpublished) commissioned by the Research Siddiqui, Tasneem et al, 2010, Targeting Good Governance: Programme Consortium on Migrating Out of Poverty based at the Incorporation of Migration in the 6th Five Year Plan, University of Sussex, UK RMMRU Policy Paper, RMMRU: Dhaka 10. Siddiqui, 2011 Siddiqui, Tasneem, 2009, Putting Migration in Development 11. BMET data on skill wise migration, 2011, Strategies, Background Paper 1, 3rd Global Forum on 12. RMMRU Policy Brief 5; Institutional and Regulatory Reforms for Migration and Development Training of Nurses for Overseas Employment. Acknowledgement: This issue of Protifolon was prepared by Tasneem Siddiqui, Professor in Political Science and
Chair, Refugee and Migratory Movements Research Unit (RMMRU) and Makfie Farah, Programme Officer,
RMMRU, University of Dhaka. IID deeply appreciates the IDS-D.Net-RMMRU collaboration which supported the
publication of the policy brief.
Protifolon was originally developed and designed at D.Net in collaboration with the IDS Knowledge Services. IID is the new host of this programme. The views expressed in Protifolon do not necessarily reflect those of IID or IDS. The publication may be reproduced or distributed for non-commercial purpose in any form or by any means, or stored in a data base or retrieval system. However, proper quotation and reference is mandatory.
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Plan of Building the Business 2 meetings a day - 10 meetings a week - 40 meetings a month! Plan of Building the Business Main provisions .3 Whom to address, and how, in order to start acting.3 Scheduling a meeting (see Appendix) .3 Getting ready for the meeting .5 Getting referrals .6 Selling personal care products .8 Nutrition and weight loss.9 Talking about the business opportunity .9