Some 41 workers, who were discriminated and terminated by their Malaysian employer, received around Tk 10 million in compensation Saturday.
Shishuk, a non-governmental organisation (NGO) working with Bangladeshi migrant workers, organised the cheque handover ceremony in association with Bureau of Manpower Employment and Training (BMET) of Bangladesh government.
Chaired by S.M. Wahid-Uz-Zaman, Director General, BMET, the ceremony was held at the Dhaka Reporters' Unity (DRU). Irene Fernandez, Director, Tenganita, a Malaysian attended the programme as chief guest while Mosharraf Hossain, MP, Shahidul Haque, Regional Representative of International Organization for Migration and Gule Afruz Mahbub, coordinator of Unifem, Sakiul Millat Morshed, executive director of Shishuk spoke on the occasion.
P. Vickneswaren, the lawyer who represented Bangladeshi workers in Malaysian court and Mr. Johnson, former Manager (HR) of the concerned company, who later was compelled to quit his job for helping Bangladeshi workers, were present and expressed their views and experience in handling the case.
A total of 127 workers were fired by Chong Wah Plastic Company of Malaysia and deprived them of their dues. Chong Wah Plastic Company of Malaysia was defeated in the legal battle and case lodged by 127 Bangladeshi migrant workers in 1999 in the labor court for violation of the collective agreement signed by the union and the employer.
All the workers are due to receive a total of about Tk 40 million in compensation. Fifty-three workers have been resettled in their employment, 23 already received compensation in Malaysia and 10 could not be traced so far.
The Federal Court of Malaysia in a historic verdict April18, 2005 said "If the country has to employ foreign workers both the law and equity, and good conscience, demands that they be given their legal rights." This has upheld the spirit of article 25 of the 'UN Convention 1990'that ensures the rights of migrant workers although most of the receiving countries including Malaysia did not ratify the UN convention.
Talking to the FE Dr. Irene Fernandez, Chair - CARAM- Asia, said that about 200,000 Bangladeshi workers are currently working in Malaysia. Among them 40 per cent does not have proper documents.
"And they are passing days in fear as any time 'Rela', as a volunteer vigilant corp., may catch them." she observed.
She expressed concern that 'Rela' employees engaged by the Malaysian government are not trained enough to carry out such activities and are arresting workers without proper investigation.
Dr. Fernandez told that they handled more than 3700 complaints on various forms of violations during last three years. The highest complaint was for non-payment of wages and they have been successful to settle 85 per cent of the complaints relating to realisation of huge amount of unpaid wages.
Dr. Fernandez urged all including the Bangladesh government, recruiting agencies and employers to be aware, respectful and honest to uphold and establish the rights of all migrant workers, as they are human beings and not commodities to be traded, bought, used or sold for profit.