Tuesday, 21 August 2007

Dhaka to sign deal with Doha to safeguard workers’ rights

Raheed Ejaz
Dhaka is set to sign an additional deal with Doha for protecting the rights of the Bangladeshis working in the gulf country. The government has taken the initiative as the existing deal does not fully ensure the rights of Bangladeshi workers in Qatar and the other South Asian countries, including India and Pakistan, have already signed such agreements, officials in the ministry of foreign affairs and expatriate and overseas employment said.

‘Also, our recent negative experience in some of the Middle Eastern countries, especially Kuwait’s decision to deport illegal workers, has made it necessary to sign such deal,’ said an official of the expatriate welfare and overseas ministry. ‘We have finalised the draft of the agreement and hope to sign it very shortly,’ Md Abdul Matin Chowdhury, acting secretary of the expatriate welfare and overseas employment ministry told New Age on Thursday. He said that the draft of the deal, styled ‘Additional Protocol to the Agreement between Qatar and Bangladesh on the Regulation of the Employment of Bangladesh Citizens’, was finalised in an inter-ministerial meeting headed by him on Monday.

The secretary said that the draft was sent to the law ministry for vetting and afterwards it would be placed before the cabinet for approval. Two clauses were incorporated in the protocol. One states that before any deportation, Bangladeshi workers should be compensated following the labour laws of the Gulf state that safeguards all basic rights of workers. ‘To avoid such deportation, initiative should be taken so that the workers could be provided with job there,’ the other clause said. The initial agreementl was signed between the two countries in 1998. An official of the ministry said that the Qatar authorities recently told Bangladesh to revise it like India and Pakistan if it required doing so. ‘Later, Qater sent the copies of the deals it signed with India and Pakistan to us. After going through those deals, we have decided to follow the Pakistani deal as there are similarities between our situations,’ the official added.

At present some 80,000 Bangladeshis are working in Qatar and the country fetched $ 233.17 million as remittance in 2006-07 fiscal from the Gulf state. Earlier this year the Kuwaiti authorities decided to deport illegal migrants staying in the Gulf country by September. According to official estimate, some 30,000 undocumented Bangladeshis are staying in the Gulf state.


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