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Draw up plan, save workers PM's call at opening of Colombo Process consultation

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday said the prevailing Libyan crisis has called for formulating effective contingency planning and mechanism to deal with migrant workers in emergency situation.
Draw up plan, save workers PM's call at opening of Colombo Process consultation

Sheikh Hasina (from The Daily Star)

“In Libya, migrant workers were the first victims of the unrest as employers evacuated or shut down factories due to rising violence,” she said.

The prime minister made the statement at the inaugural ceremony of Fourth Ministerial Consultation of Colombo Process and opening of Expatriate Welfare Bank at Sonargaon Hotel in the morning.

Hasina underscored the need for collective action of labour sending countries in Asia for stopping irregularities during migration and ensuring overall welfare of the workers including minimum wage, acceptable working conditions and health benefits.

She said for many of the labour sending countries in the region, including Bangladesh, unethical recruitment practices are a major challenge.

The problems of exploitation and malpractices in labour migration process, high migration cost, involvement in low skilled and unregulated sectors, ignorance of the labour migrants, are issues common in many of the countries in the region, she added.

Hasina said despite global economic downturn and subsequent fall in labour migration, expatriate Bangladeshis remitted over $ 10 billion in 2010 which is about 11 percent of country's GDP and the government identified labour migration as a thrust sector.

Referring the return of over 35 thousand Bangladeshi migrant workers from Libya, many of them without their documents, personal possessions, and without their pay and meager savings, Hasina requested the IOM and other concerned international agencies to help ensure their employment opportunities.

The PM said from now on intending migrant workers could take collateral-free loans from the bank for meeting their migration cost.

The new bank will contribute to bring down the migration cost, especially costs which are incurred to fund the migration process.

Besides, Hasina said returnee migrant workers could take loan from the bank for running employment generating programmes.

She handed over cheques of collateral-free loan among four workers to meet their migration costs. She also released postal stamps issued by Bangladesh Postal Department marking the inauguration of the bank.

Expatriate Welfare and Overseas Employment Minister Engineer Khondakar Mosharraf Hossain presided over the function while Foreign Minister Dipu Moni, Indonesian Manpower and Transmigration Minister Muhaimin Iskandar and Director General of IOM Ambassador William Lacy Swing, among others, addressed it."

THE ARTICLE WAS PUBLISHED ON THURSDAY 21st APRIL 2011 on The Daily Star (http://www.thedailystar.net/)

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