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How can the rising problem of Bangladeshi migrant workers be solved?

July 18, 2014 by Tooba Altaf

Living in a shared room, cooking your own food, doing your own laundry and running your own errands are few tasks that migrant workers can perform better than anybody. In order to look after their family financially, South Asian men, especially Bangladeshis, in their twenties happen to move to another country like Singapore, Dubai or Middle East.

But besides becoming proficient in aforementioned duties, migrant workers have some headaches too. Let’s delve into the problems of Bangladeshi migrant workers.

Problems of Bangladeshi migrant workers

Bangladeshi migrant workers spend lots of money to get there

Bangladeshi Migrant Workers Spend Lots Of Money To Get There

Reaching to any foreign country and getting a job is not a piece of cake. Agents tend to exploit innocent job seekers and loot extra money as most of the jobs are of low level and only uneducated or unskilled men apply for them.

You can hear endless stories of family sacrifices from foreign Bangladeshi workers where mothers have sold their jewelries or fathers have taken loans on extra interest just to send their kids overseas so that they could support their families.

Ultimately all of it adds tons of pressure on the worker as he knows that going back home is not an option now unless he could pay off the borrowed money. And this forces him to overlook many flaws in the system because he strives to save his job at any cost.

If you are sick/injured/hurt, be ready to pay medical expenses

If You Are Sick Injured Hurt Be Ready To Pay Medical Expenses

Usually Bangladeshi migrant workers sign up for labour jobs where risk is inevitable. People get hurt all the time while performing their duties. In one such incident, a Bangladeshi guy called Mozumder became victim of a horrible accident in Singapore and as expected, his employer denied medical compensation.

It’s been two years but Mozumder still awaits medical assistance meanwhile he is unemployed due to his injury. Again there are countless Mozumder working in the world that faces such problems every single day.

Cost of living is way too high

Cost Of Living Is Way Too High

Balancing the cost of living and sending money back home is one of the major concerns of Bangladeshi migrant workers. Of course, they don’t get paid what they deserve and then there is a long list of expenses like food, shelter, clothing, commuting, medical and what not. The direct impact of making both ends meet is that workers usually do extra time to earn a bit more.

And let’s not forget the cost of plane tickets for visiting home but that’s just generally once a year. More importantly paying mobile bills upset the entire budget as calling back home is really very expensive but staying in touch with your family, friends and relatives is also necessary.

Justice is blind – even in Singapore

Justice Is Blind – Even In Singapore

People from Bangladesh go to various countries to earn money but the corruption and poorly crafted rules and regulations for foreign workers make it impossible to actually get a fair salary.

Transient Workers Count Too (TWC2), a non-profit organization dedicated to help foreign workers in Singapore, tells a story of a hard working Bangladeshi man who suffered at the hand of his employer. Hazrat was working in the Singapore, he was promised a salary of $900 a month but his employer illegally deducted more than $50 each month from the very beginning. Then one of Hazrat co-worker fell ill and was admitted to hospital but his condition was not improving so he was sent back to Bangladesh and Hazrat was the one to accompany him. When Hazrat came back just a day later, the company refused to pay him his salary of two months claiming it as the deduction for medical expenses for Hazrat’s co-worker.

It’s just one story but it keeps repeating itself in different scenarios on different foreign faces in different parts of the world. Let’s just say, expecting people to be fair with you because you have always been reasonable with them is definitely not the way of life in this world and especially not for foreign workers.

Bangladeshi migrant workers don’t earn what they deserve

Bangladeshi Migrant Workers Don’T Earn What They Deserve

The reason why you see so many migrant workers in any country is because they provide cheap services. And it implies that salaries for foreign workers are already less than what it should be ideally and then we have discussed cases of lawlessness where employers illegally deduct money from already lesser salaries of foreign workers. In addition, mostly there are no extra facilities provided.

There are solutions too

So now it has been established that life is hell for Bangladeshi migrant workers but definitely there are ways to improve conditions a little. Of course, you can’t expect countries to revise its policies for migrant workers over night or increase wages suddenly but there are still certain things that are in your control.

It’s good to take breaks

It’S Good To Take Breaks

As said earlier, usually Bangladeshi migrant workers do extra time on their jobs. And at the end of the day, they have only thing in their life i.e. work.  But it is crucial to take a break once a month and go for some recreational activities as taking break always refills you with new energy that keeps you going.

And the best part is you are in a new country so there is always something to see or eat or experience. And these breaks or picnics can be as cheap or expensive as you want them to be. And it’s always good to spend a bit on your own self.

Make connections

Make Connections

In every country, NGOs, welfare bodies and other platforms work for the betterment of migrant workers. They will facilitate you with advocacy, training, education and stuff. You can even connect to more members of your country via these platforms. All in all, connecting and networking is the way to survive in an unknown land.

These organizations are there to help you if any employer tries to deduct your money unnecessarily or if any company refuses to pay you medical assistance. And with their help, you can also fix the fraud agents, who lure innocent men and dodge them into giving more than required money for migration process.

Cutting your expenses

Cutting Your Expenses

Another way a Bangladeshi migrant worker can feel better is by saving some extra bucks. The best way to do is to list down all your expenses and then try to find a way to reduce them.

Let’s take an example of phone calls; you spend quite some amount of your hard earned money on calling to Bangladeshbut in reality you don’t need to spend half your income on calls.

There are plenty of phone applications which can make calling to Bangladesh at highly reasonable call rates. Some of these applications not necessarily require a smartphone as they also have made calls available through a local access number and landline.

And as for best apps for calling are concerned, you have Viber, Skype, and Yello etc. But Skype and Viber have too many users and you might find disturbance in voice quality and also they do not support without the availability of internet. On the other hand Yello has an undisturbed and clear voice quality and very few call drop rate. It’s a new app and it’s pretty balanced. And usually apps require both the caller and the receiver to have the same app but with Yello it’s not necessary at all. You could call to Bangladesh even if your loved ones do not own a smartphone. The calling rates are quite cheap with free initial credit and 10% extra credit on every top-up. However, this way, it would cost you a tad bit but definitely the price would be much less than your traditional ways.

Learning should never stop

Learning Should Never Stop

You should always work on your skills and education. Try to become proficient in the native language of your migrated country and focus on your English as well. While one of the most important skills that can help you forever is computer literacy, so try to become as friendly with computers as you can.

Besides these if you could find more such courses then go for it. The basic idea is to keep adding skills to your resume for better job prospects in future. Yes taking out time from a hectic schedule can be tough but for a progressive career, you must work on your education and skills.

Being a migrant worker is not the best way to live especially in a world where educational standards and economic performance matter more than social values and human rights but being alone in a country liberates you in ways you cannot possibly image. You really get to live independently, take all your decisions, find your own way, and take responsibility of your loved ones in a better way.

Have questions or suggestions? We love to hear from you.


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