Partial lifting of ban on Bangladeshi workers eyed


Published — Wednesday 27 February 2013

Last update 27 February 2013 5:17 am

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The Ministry of Labor is currently studying lifting of a partial ban on workers’ recruitment from Bangladesh.
“The Ministry of Labor has set up a committee to study to resume recruitment of workers from Bangladesh. The committee will also study the security and criminal aspects of Bangladeshi workers to ensure that they will not commit crimes in future,” Undersecretary for International Affairs at the Ministry of Labor Ahmed Al-Fehaid said in a statement. Approximately 2 million Bangladeshi nationals are working in the Kingdom.
Saudi Arabia recruited about 150,000 Bangladeshis each year until 2008, according to a statement of that country’s Bureau of Manpower, Employment and Training. Following a ban on hiring of workers in the housing and agricultural sectors in 2008, the annual average of Saudi recruitments from there plummeted to around 10,000.
After issuing the ban order, then-Labor Minister Ghazi Al-Gosaibi said, “Their hiring would be restricted to medical and engineering fields. However, there will be an exception for the jobs in the maintenance and cleaning sectors with the condition that their percentage in all the sectors should not exceed 20 percent.”
It was also reported then that Bangladeshi workers got the biggest share — 23.5 per-cent of the 1.5 million — of Saudi visas issued in 2007.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina of Bangladesh urged the Kingdom to increase the import of manpower from her country to Saudi Arabia when Shoura Council Chairman Abdullah Al-Asheikh visited her in Dhaka early last month. Sheikh Hasina also called upon the Saudi government to invest more in her country’s industrial and business sector for mutual benefits of the two countries in the meeting with Al-Asheikh. Bangladeshi Minister of Labor, Employment, Expatriates’ Welfare and Overseas Employment, Khandaker Mosharraf Hossain, said in a recent statement that his government had taken steps, including the registration of overseas workers and issuance of a smart card, to ensure anyone with a criminal background cannot work abroad.
A spokesman for Bangladeshi labor ministry acknowledged earlier that some Bangladeshis in Saudi Arabia were engaged in illegal activities such as claiming shops illegally, selling banned CDs, running illegal telephone businesses, stealing manhole covers from roads and footpaths, stealing electricity and telephone cables, and printing fake currency.
In 2011, Bangladeshi media reported quoting their labor minister that the Kingdom decided to recruit four categories of workers — housemaids, house drivers, security guards and gardeners — from that country. The minister made the statement after meeting with the Saudi Arabian National Recruitment Committee, which signed a memorandum of understanding with its Bangladeshi counterpart Baira, pledging to cooperate with each other in protecting the migrants’ interests.

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