The first batch of Bangladeshi workers will leave for Malaysia on Monday night under a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between Bangladesh and Malaysia on 19 December.
A total of 53 workers will board an AirAsia flight for Kuala Lumpur at 11.40pm through Catharsis International recruiting agency, Bureau of Manpower, Employment and Training (BMET) Director General Md Shahidul Alam told The Business Standard.
At least 5,000 workers are also in the pipeline to leave for Malaysia through 16 other recruiting agencies, Shahidul Alam informed.
However, recruiters protesting against the syndication of agencies in the migration process to Malaysia, say outgoing workers are having to pay Tk3.5-4 lakh though the government set the recruitment cost per worker at Tk78,990.
The controversy about a syndicate of 25 agencies chosen to conduct recruitment is in fact true as they only continue to send workers to Malaysia, the protesting recruiters claimed.
"Earlier we claimed that a syndicated system of recruitment would increase migration costs, as was the case in the past. This is exactly what has happened this time," said Tipu Sultan, president of the Manpower Recruiting Agencies Oikko Parishad.
Catharsis International proprietor, Ruhul Amin Shwapon, the alleged mastermind of the recruiting agency syndicate, is sending the first batch of workers through his agency.
"Our Ministry of Expatriates' Welfare has assigned the responsibility of recruitment agency selection to the Ministry of Human Resources of Malaysia instead of Malaysian employers. But in the case of 13 other source countries, only legitimate recruitment agencies hire workers for Malaysia," Tipu Sultan added.
Farhad Hossain (Pseudo name) from Feni is an aspiring migrant to Malaysia. He has been asked to pay Tk3.80 lakh in migration costs.
"We have already paid Tk50,000 and submitted his passport to a middleman. We will have to pay the remaining amount after getting the necessary approval from the destination country," Farhad's mother told TBS.
Recruiters have been demanding the punishment and cancellation of the agencies involved in the syndication.
Dhaka and Kuala Lumpur signed the MoU on labour recruitment last year after a pause of more than three years following allegations of a ten-member syndicate that manipulated recruitment during 2017-18.
After the signing of the MoU, Malaysian Human Resources Minister M Saravanan said they would select 25 Bangladeshi agents and 250 subagents for the recruitment of workers.
This sparked protests from the other recruitment agencies.