Organisations of migrant workers on Friday formed a human chain, demanding that the authorities concerned ensure safe, harassment-free and regular migration of expatriate workers by providing them with free Covid-19 vaccine.
Bangladesh Abhibashi Sramik Forum (Bangladesh Migrant Workers' Forum) and Bangladeshi Ovhibashi Mohila Sramik Association (Bangladeshi Migrant Women Workers Association) jointly organised the programme in front of the National Press Club.
A programme to send a memorandum to the foreign ministry next Sunday was also announced at the human chain.
Sabina Chowdhury, president of Bangladesh Abhibashi Sramik Forum, presided over the programme where labor leader Abul Hossain spoke as the chief guest.
Abul Hossain said, "The government has claimed that when incomes in all sectors declined in 2020, expatriates' earnings have increased. However, no diplomatic initiative has been taken by the government to solve the problems of the returnee workers and those who want to go abroad for jobs."
"This will lead to a shortfall in Bangladesh's remittance inflows in the future, which will endanger the country's economy," he opined.
At the programme, the labor leaders said millions of workers have returned to the country empty-handed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. These helpless workers are living in inhuman condition without any help from the government. Many workers are on the run as they have debts, which they cannot repay.
However, crores of taka earned by these workers are deposited in a fund for the expatriates' welfare. The government has to take necessary steps to solve the crisis of these helpless workers, but they have not taken any effective steps so far, said the labour leaders.
They also alleged the bank is delaying the rehabilitation of the returning workers on various pretexts.
Although communication with some countries has been restored recently, workers from our country are not able to return to their workplaces, because their visas have expired or work permits have expired. Hopefully, the government will take initiative and take necessary steps to solve the crisis of these helpless workers, said the worker leaders.
They also complained that although the government has fixed the fee for the Covid-19 test, in many cases testing facilities do not comply with the government order and charge extra fees.
Immigrant workers are in dire financial straits at the moment, so migrant workers need to be given free vaccine and vaccine certificates, demanded the leaders.
Lily Jahan, president of Bangladeshi Ovhibashi Mohila Sramik Association, Sheikh Rumana, its general secretary, Neela Mallick, vice president, Shiuli Akter, organising secretary, Nurunnaba Arif, office secretary, Tapan Saha, treasurer, also attended the programme.