At least 70 Bangladeshi workers have been staying in Malaysia without jobs in last five months, though they moved to the Southeast Asian country legally, people familiar with the situation said.
Unique Eastern Ltd, a private recruiting agency, sent 130 workers to Malaysia in 2017 to serve SSN Medical Products, a hand gloves and condom maker based in Selangor Darul Ehsan area.
About half the workers, who got support from their friends and relatives, were moved to different places looking for jobs after erratic salaries.
But rest of the migrants got no such opportunities to go to other places seeking jobs, according to workers.
The majority of the workers spent Tk 300,000 to Tk 400,000 each as migration cost.
Managing director of Unique Nur Ali could not be reached over phone for comments.
They sold out lands and borrowed money to mobilise fees, making it difficult for them return home empty-handed.
Although some of them want to come home, they have no money to buy air tickets, some workers told this correspondent over phone.
One worker Sagor Khan (30) said the recruiting agency assured them of drawing a monthly wage of 1,000 ringgits (about Tk 20,000) besides free food and lodging.
But they only received Tk 13,000 to 14,000 in the first two months before salaries becoming irregular.
When the workers started movement, the owner provided them with partial wages, he said.
For the last five months, they have no work as the company's production remained closed.
They are getting no wage now, except 50 ringgits for food in 15 days or a month.
"I sold my cell phone last month to buy food. Some people are brining money from home to meet essential expenses," he noted.
Currently, the workers have become illegal migrants because the company did not renew their work permits annually.
Since the workers have no valid work permits, they cannot even go outside, if needed, Mr Khan said, adding some of his colleagues were arrested by police as their work permits became invalid.
They requested repeatedly to the company owner to renew their work permit, but they did not do so, he added.
He said they also contacted Unique officials, but none received the call.
Another worker, Mohammad Chanchal said, "I have come to this country borrowing money. The interest against the fund is increasing day by day".
He took out Tk 340,000 in loans from a bank and an NGO while the rest of the amount was collected through land mortgage. "So, how can I go home empty-handed?" he asked. "It's better to die than going back home. I have been totally devastated," he said.
Bangladesh had fixed Tk 160,000 as migration cost for Malaysia-bound workers three years back. But it was never enforced as private recruiters charged exorbitantly.
Workers said a group of 80 to 90 workers went to the Bangladesh high commission five months ago to seek help and submitted application. Officials pledged to look into the matter within 15 days, but they did not take any attempt yet.
No mission official could be reached over phone for comments, despite several attempts.
Party Socialist Malaysia (PSM) a political platform in Malaysia Monday last submitted an application on behalf of the workers to the labour office under the human resource ministry of the Southeast Asian country seeking necessary action to support the workers.
The partymen said they filed the application to the Labour Office following requests from the workers. About 0.7 to 0.8 million Bangladeshis are staying in Malaysia with jobs, officials said.
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