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GCC for clear-cut laws to protect migrant workers

The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) has proposed bringing all recruitment agencies under a legal framework to root out fraudulent practices in the workers' recruitment process and protect the migrants' rights.

"Enforcing lawful, fair and transparent recruitment practices begins with the requirement by law that all actors in the recruitment chain, including subagents, be duly and verifiably licensed in their respective country of jurisdiction," says a paper presented by a delegate of the GCC in the ministerial meeting of Asian labour-sending countries.

This is aimed at holding the actors within a country and international chain accountable for any violation of the law, notably in matters that pertain to human trafficking and collection of unlawful fees from the workers, it said.

The GCC made the recommendations as guiding principles for the drafting of a regional framework of collaboration among Asian countries of labour origin and destination.

Such proposals are important for Bangladesh, and other Asian labour-sending countries, as millions of migrants work in the Gulf countries -- the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman and Qatar. Around 5 million Bangladeshis work in these countries.

However, there are serious concerns that manpower brokers both in the labour-sending and destination countries are engaged in unethical practices that cause enormous woes for migrants.

The UAE undersecretary of labour led the GCC delegation to the meeting being held at the Pan Pacific Sonargaon Hotel from Tuesday. The meeting concludes today.

Eleven Asian labour-sending countries and eight labour-receiving countries from the Middle East, Southeast Asia and Europe are attending it.

The GCC also proposed that the legal fees for recruitment of migrant workers in the GCC nations will be borne by the employers, but that should be clearly defined by the labour-sending and receiving countries, says the paper.

"The GCC delegate also suggested a technology to check changes of job contracts," said William Gois of Migrants Forum Asia, who attended the meeting. Changing job contracts of migrants by the employers in the destination countries has been a common phenomenon, which cuts wages and benefits of the workers.

"At all stages of migration, we want to protect the migrants," said Khandker Mosharraf Hossain, expatriates' welfare minister of Bangladesh.

An official of International Organization for Migration (IOM), which is providing secretarial support to the meeting, said the ministers at the meeting also agreed that these Asian countries will work together to address the problems of migrants induced by climate change."


THIS ARTICLE WAS PUBLISHED ON The Daily Star and written by

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