Conference on Labour Migration Governance

Good governance can protect migrants’ labour rights in the destination country

Press release | 12 March 2019
Distinguish guests at the inauguration ceremony of labour migration governance conference
Every year, more than 400,000 workers leave Bangladesh in search of better paid employment overseas. However, these vulnerable Bangladeshi migrants often face numerous challenges like:
1. High agency or ‘fixer’ fees for ,low skilled jobs
2. Low wages abroad
3. Lack of information on migration opportunities and risks
4. Discrimination
5. Exploitation and abuse while overseas
6. Insufficient services to protect the rights of workers.

Currently there are around 10.9 million Bangladeshis living and working in 165 countries. Every year, there is additional 2m workforce in the job market of the country, of which about 1m migrants go abroad for work.
Around USD 16 Bln is remitted every year, which amounts to seven per cent of the country’s GDP. This figure of USD 16 Bln is nine times higher than current level of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and seven times that of foreign aid, making labour migration a key strategy for future human development in the country.

ILO is working closely with the Government of Bangladesh to improve the overall management of labour migration and to ensure social protection and decent employment conditions for all Bangladeshi migrant workers.

The objective of the two-day conference is to share achievements of the project on labour migration governance to date and to discuss the next steps.

The project Application of the Migration Policy for Decent Work for Migrant Workers funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) is strengthening Government institutions responsible for managing migration by ensuring they adopt the legal policy framework to deliver proper information, occupational classification and pre-departure training accreditation and welfare services to the migrant workers in the destination country.

The project is supporting the Ministry of Expatriate Welfare and Overseas Employment (MoEWOE) to develop an integrated Migrant Worker Information and Management System (MWIMS) and Labour Market Information System (LMIS) for better labour migration governance.
The Hon’ble State Minister from the Ministry of Expatriates’ Welfare and Overseas Employment Imran Ahmed MP appreciated ILO and SDC’s contribution to improved policy advocacy for better protection of the migrant workers, as well as ensure safe migration and decent work. He urged to take the opportunity of BD population by skilling and up-skilling them for labour migration, since the migrant workers who are doing blue collar job abroad send 90% of their income to the country as remittance. He said that the government is very much keen to reduce the migration cost for the migrant workers. The government is going to develop an information cell in the union level digital information center to disseminate the information on fare, orderly and safe migration.

Suzanne Mueller, Senior Adviser, SDC said, “I appreciate the horizontal and vertical policy coherence that the Government of Bangladesh has managed to achieve in the implementation of the policy – such as, through the Social Dialogue of the Labour Migration Forum and decentralization of responsibility to the grassroots level (to the District Employment and Manpower Offices).”

UN Residence Coordinator Mia Seppo said, UNRC will give it’s full support to the government to implement Global Compact for safe, orderly, and regular migration as well as the responsible migration to achieve SDG goal on responsible migration.
The Country Director of ILO Tuomo Poutiainen said, “ILO has a constitutional mandate from 1919 to protect migrant workers. The organization has pioneered the development of international labour standards to guide labour migration policy and protection of migrant workers. ILO Bangladesh has been working with its constituents to promote decent work for all workers, including migrant workers.”

Bangladesh Association of International Recruiting Agencies president Benjir Ahmed said the initiative ILO has taken to build capacity and raised awareness on fair recruitment was useful and we are committed to work in collaboration with all the stakeholders.

In the coming years, the project will provide technical support to the constituents of the ILO including the MoEWOE in the area of strengthening institutions for an effective implementation of the existing policy framework.