A section of returnee migrant workers have shared how they suffer in the destination countries including Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Lebanon.
They were not given the jobs and the wages they were promised and were forcefully made to work, the returnees alleged.
Returnee migrants and experts disclosed this at a public hearing on 'depriving migrant workers of wages' organised by Refugee and Migratory Movements Research Unit (RMMRU) and Migrant Forum in Asia (MFA) at the National Press Club on Thursday.
Twelve returned migrants from Saudi Arabia, Dubai and Lebanon during the coronavirus outbreak and before, shared their untold sufferings at the event. They were cheated by the middlemen and recruiting agencies during going abroad.
The ill-fated migrant workers alleged they were not given days off as per their job conditions and their wages were cut without any notice.
The employers also cut wages on the pretext of insurance, treatment, transport cost and skill enhancement. However, the workers were not given back the money later.
The migrant workers also said the job conditions, wages and facilities for the workers are not being provided in most of the cases. Bangladeshi migrants in different countries including the Middle East are being deprived of wages in this manner.
A woman migrant from Cumilla said she was sent to Saudi Arabia with a medical visa through Cumilla Overseas. Spending Tk 150,000 she went to Saudi Arabia and had to work as a housemaid. She did not get any money for working for three months.
The worker said, "The Saudi employer did not allow me to even sleep, let alone provide food. The employer forced me to work for 18 hours instead of eight hours as per contract. I was also tortured there."
She said, "I lodged a complaint at BMET against Cumilla Overseas after I managed to return with much hardship. I was given Tk 30,000 as compensation. The remaining money was not given till now."
Omar Faruk, a resident from Keraniganj, spent Tk 500,000 and went to Lebanon. He returned home during the coronavirus outbreak after working for 11 years there.
The ill-fated migrant workers alleged they were not given days off as per the job condition and their wages were cut without any notice. The employers also cut wages on the pretext of insurance, treatment, transport cost and skill enhancement. However, the workers were not given back the money later.
He alleged, "Insurance, medical costs and transport costs were cut from my wages. But my employer did not return the money when I was returning home."
At the event, RMMRU executive director CR Abrar said, "The issue of stealing wages came up in studies conducted by different agencies in Bangladesh, India, the Philippines, Nepal and Sri Lanka in 2021 and 2022."
Former advisor to the caretaker government, Hossain Zillur Rahman, said a syndicate came into being in the name of visa trading and they are becoming powerful with political shelter. Migrants are going abroad through legal means, but they are turning irregular due to the syndicate in the destination country, he added.