Dynamics of Labour Migration - Bangladesh Context

Between 1996 to 2002 about 3.24 million Bangladeshis migrated for overseas employment who remitted 23.7 billion dollars during this period.

Dr M Alimullah Miyan

Despite having a labor intensive economy Bangladesh, has a significant imbalance in the human resources market in the country. Necessity forced Bangladeshi laborers to migrate to other countries for employment and better earning. From seventies workers migrated in large numbers to the Middle East and other parts of the world, including Europe and Asia. Between 1996 to 2002 about 3.24 million Bangladeshis migrated for overseas employment who remitted 23.7 billion dollars during this period. These numbers excludes those who go abroad undocumented and made remittance through un-official channels.

The recruitment process of migrant workers in Bangladesh is complex. The whole process is characterized by a host of intermediaries, some official and legitimate, while others are clandestine and dubious. The recruitment of migrant workers is in the hands of the private recruiting agents and individuals. In this context, through migration friendly policy interventions by the Bangladesh government is desirable, in reality there is an absence of such policy perspective. The migrant workers send their remittances mainly through “hundi” system which is a method that by-passes the banking system. The remittances do have positive impact on Bangladesh economy. The remittances make substantial contribution to family welfare, social development and macroeconomic growth.
There are mixed views about the costs and benefits of migration of workers from Bangladesh. However, foreign laborers have.

Remitted US$ 11.5 billion during 1977-99. The remittances are inexpensive source of foreign exchange available for economic development of Bangladesh. Migration of workers also helped in reducing the unemployment rate, which is one of the major problems of Bangladesh. Migrant households experienced enormous expansion of their income base during the post migration period. The benefit to cost ratio came out to be highly favorable to the individual as well as to the society.

Migrant workers, particularly in Asian countries, have to return to Bangladesh after stipulated contract period. There is absence of policy framework as well as program the country for facilitating reintegration of NRBs. Re-integration and rehabilitation of the returnees is the least explored area in labor migration scenario for Bangladeshis. Parameters of a policy framework for reintegration have been identified for action.

Globalization along with local factors have made the management of the labor migration a complex and difficult undertaking. The interest of migrant workers has been marginalized due to lack of rules, migration norms and expertise in migration management, both locally and globally. In Bangladesh, there is absence of institutional and policy framework to address the issues of institutional arrangements for skill development, protection of rights of the NRBs as well as evaluation of the measures to minimize the migration of undocumented workers.

Despite institutional limitations Bangladesh, like other labor originating countries, has the goals of maximizing labor migration and ensuring protection and welfare of migrant workers abroad.

“Dynamics of Labour Migration-Bangladesh Context’ was published in the Proceedings of International Industrial Relations Association, IIRA 5th Asian Regional Congress, Dynamics and Diversity: Employment Relations in the Asia-Pacific Region, June 23-26, 2004, Seoul, Korea, Convenor: Korea Labour Institute (KLI) and Korea Industrial Relations Association (KIRA).

Published: 12 Oct 2005

Contact details:

4 Embankment Drive Road, Sector 10, Uttara Model Town, Dhaka 1230, Bangladesh

892 3471, 896 3523-27, 0174 014933
News topics: 
Content type: 

Proceedings of International Industrial Relations Association