The country's manpower exporters have demanded that the Malaysian labour market be freed from the hands of a 25-agency syndicate.
They said a conspiracy is on to hand over the entire labour market of Malaysia to a syndicate of 25 recruiting agencies.
It must be stopped immediately to ensure equal opportunities for hundreds of manpower exporters, they demanded at a press conference organised by Baira Syndicate Nirmul Oikya Jote on Sunday.
The aggrieved exporters, also members of Bangladesh Association of International Recruiting Agencies (Baira), alleged that together with some top government officials, the 25 aforementioned agencies are trying to capture the entire market of manpower exports to Malaysia, depriving the remaining over 1,000 recruiting agencies of a level playing field.
In the event at Dhaka Reporters' Unity, they declared that they will form a human chain in front of the Ministry of Expatriate Welfare and Overseas Employment today to press home their demands.
Tipu Sultan, member secretary of Baira Syndicate Nirmul Oikya Jote, said, "The process of sending workers to Malaysia through only 25 agencies has started, depriving most of the 1,200 Baira members."
According to the manpower exporters, in the G2G Plus agreement signed in 2016, the Malaysian government announced that 1.5 million workers would be imported from Bangladesh every year, in five years. At that time, only 10 agencies had the privilege to export manpower. But the maximum cost for each person was fixed at Tk37,000.
Earlier, on 4 February, at a press briefing in the capital, manpower exporters termed the G2G system the result of conspiracy of some non-governmental organisations.
They said despite the agreement to export 1.5 million workers in five years, only 40,000 workers have been exported in four years.
Sources said the demand for Bangladeshi labourers in Malaysia began in 1984. Until 2009, all agencies had the opportunity to export workers to Malaysia according to their qualifications, without hindrance.
Shamim Ahmed Chowdhury Noman, immediate past secretary general of Baira told The Business Standard, "It was the worst conspiracy in the history of manpower export in Bangladesh. Using immoral transactions and political power, the syndicate of 10 agencies took control of the entire manpower export business."
He said, "They propagated that export of workers through a syndicate comprising 10 agencies would ensure the maximum welfare of the workers and the cost of migration can be controlled this way."
"The Bangladesh government has started the process to sign a protocol with Malaysian government to reopen the labour market. We urge the government to ensure equal business opportunities in the protocol for all recruiting agencies," he continued.
"However, we have heard that the previous syndicate has become active again while the labour market is going to reopen. That is why, the agency owners are concerned about it," he added.
"In 2017-18, the cost per person to go to Malaysia stood at Tk4 lakh, whereas it was only Tk1.5 lakh in 2009. The cost of immigration was supposed to be reduced to Tk37,000, but because of the syndicate, the cost has increased further," said a manpower exporter a week ago.
Malaysia, home to around eight lakh Bangladeshis, suspended labour recruitment from Bangladesh in September 2018 following allegations of a monopoly by a syndicate of recruiting agents and the high cost of migration.
Malaysia agreed to reopen its labour market to Bangladeshi migrant workers in October last year.
During a virtual meeting with Bangladesh's Expatriates' Welfare and Overseas Employment Minister Imran Ahmad, Malaysian Human Resource Minister Datuk Seri M Saravanan gave his consent to start taking Bangladeshi workers as soon as possible.
Earlier in 2009, due to the global economic recession and diplomatic tensions, the Malaysian labour market was shut down. After the market was closed for a long time, the government lobbied hard and in 2012, and the G2G system was re-introduced in the market.
Regarding the issue, a virtual ministry-level meeting will be held on Tuesday between the two countries to resolve the issue.