Intermediaries in labour migration caused sufferings of migrants
In majority of the cases, a migration aspirant has to process the migration related documents including passport preparation, managing visa, work permit and even for managing the training certificate from technical training centre. Engagement of brokers or intermediaries in labour migration is a stretched practicing culture in rural areas of Bangladesh. Every year thousands of people migrating to over 100 countries around the world through these intermediaries or brokers, and hence considered as important stakeholder in labour migration structure. Apart from the approved recruiting agencies for overseas recruitment, many people are active at grassroots level to motivate people for migration, overseas recruitment and visa processing and addressed by the local people as 'Dalal' or 'Brokers' or 'Intermediaries'.
Labour migration is a process which has three stages: Pre-departure, Departure and Migration and Post-Migration. In general, the pre stage of migration starting through application and preparation of Passport, followed by requisition for job and visa, medical, manpower clearance and purchase of air tickets. At migration and post-migration stage, the migrants have to face difficulties to process other documents i.e. managing work permit or Ikama, extension of visa or stay permit and changing job for making their job secure and legal. Hence, majority of these migrants have to rely on brokers or intermediaries at different stages of migration for processing their documents.
According to different studies and research findings, at every tier of the migration from pre to post, the migrant workers are essentially depends on different intermediaries or brokers--in local language whom has been called Dalal. It has been assumed that, involvement of intermediaries in different tier increases the migration cost, which eventually grieves the migrants for long. This article attempts to figure out intermediaries or brokers who are involved in different tier of the labour migration system.
According to BMET, total 1,459 recruiting agencies (RAs) are legally permitted for overseas recruitment. However, majority of these RAs are operating from the capital and fewer of these have any branches at district level. Therefore, individual brokers or unregistered representatives of these RAs predominantly fill-up the gap and became essential body. Though these intermediaries mainly responsible for managing visa, however they maintain linkage with other intermediaries while processing other documents like passport, medical, manpower clearance, air ticket, and job permit etc.
Similarly, some migrants and even the RAs are required to pay local brokers at DEMO office to escape the serial and do the fingering in hassle freeway. Additionally, for altering the medical test report, the RAs or the local brokers in particular cases engage the broker active in GAMCA approved medical centre, for which the migrants needs to pay extra money, and release false report.
Apart from the intermediaries active at different service providing institutions, the migrants and the RAs essentially seeks help from other intermediaries like travel agencies, immigration clearance or crossing border/airport pick-up, individuals who process job permit (Ikama), change of job or employers, renewal of passport from Bangladesh Embassy, and even for repatriation. These intermediaries' charges in majority cases are much high. Hence, the involvement of the intermediaries at different stages increases the migration cost a lot and overburden the migrant families to recover.
Bangladesh government is besieged to improve the migration governance system through digitalizing the services from district level. However, lack of manpower, systematic monitoring, and ineffective enforcement of law and policies still provide the space for the intermediaries to perform. Therefore, to alleviate the sufferings of the migrants as well as lowering the migration cost, the government is required to permit the individuals as registered sub-agents of RAs, enforce of laws effectively and build institutional capacities by resource and manpower allocation to serve the migrants both at home and abroad.
The writer is migration analyst and development activist