Bangladeshi migrants working in the Gulf States were the victim of wage theft, revealed a RMMRU study on Wednesday.
On average, the Gulf returnees claimed that they lost $2,119 (Tk 179,989) as wages and other entitlements.
The average figure for male returnees stood at $2287 (Tk 194,308) and that of female workers at $1,144 (Tk 97,169). The $35 (Tk 3000) was the lowest and $7063 (Tk 600,000) was the highest amount of loss cited.
The findings were shared at a virtual consultation, jointly organised by Bangladesh Civil Society of Migrants (BCSM) and Refugee and Migratory Movements Research Unit (RMMRU).
It showed that the migrants who were in the countries of destination for more than five years reported higher amounts of losses. About 31 per cent of the respondents who were employed from pre-2015 on average lost $2,810 (Tk 238,727).
Nearly 65 per cent workers who arrived in destination countries from 2015-2020 suffered average loss of $1,795 (Tk 152,490) each.
The loss of those arriving recently (after 2020) was also high. The four per cent of respondents belonging to this category on average lost $1,874 (Tk 1,59,204).
The workers, who lost wages are from the UAE topped the list $2853, followed by Kuwait $2513, Qatar $2075, Saudi Arabia $1985, Oman $1668 and Bahrain $1363, it said.
The study on ‘Addressing Systemic Challenges of Wage Theft: Bangladesh COVID-19 Returnees from the Gulf States’ interviewed 1,160 returnee migrants from 45 districts during the March 25 and May 06 period this year.
DR C R Abrar presented the key findings and noted that these migrants on average lost Tk 179,989 as wages and other entitlements.
Despite having due visa and work-permits as many as 63 per cent were forced to return by the employers as their arbitrarily terminated and visas cancelled, he said.
The state-sponsored repatriation process did not ensure that workers could lodge claims to their unpaid entitlements in the future, he added.
The study also found that about 48.6 per cent of the workers lost jobs. On the other hand, 38.7 experienced reduced wages. Of them 41.7 per cent male workers reported decrease in wages while 19.7 per cent of female workers experienced such a decrease.
About 15.5 per cent reported reduction in working days where 67.7 per cent did not receive due wages regularly after February 2020.
The average monthly income of all respondents was US$329 (Tk 27,970), male worker was U$345 (Tk 29,339); female worker US$252 (Tk 20,181)
Participating the consultation, migration experts and rights activists demanded the immediate steps be taken so that cheated returnee migrants are able to recover their lost wages and other entitlements.
Among others, Joanna Yu of Migrant Forum in Asia, Shameem Ahmed Chowdhury Noman of BAIRA, Dr Nurul Islam, formerly of BMET, Ranjit Chandra Das of BASTOB, Sumaiya Islam of BNSK, Syed Saiful Haque of BCSM, Gaji Salauddin of National Human Rights Commission, and migration expert Asif Munier attended the event.