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Bangladeshi domestic workers in Qatar to see 33 percent salary hike

Qatar’s government has agreed to raise the minimum monthly salary of domestic workers from Bangladesh from QR900 to QR1,200, according to media reports.

Citing the country’s expatriates’ Welfare and Overseas Employment Ministry, the Dhaka Tribune said the development followed a meeting of senior officials on Thursday. It added that Qatar is keen to recruit more Bangladeshi expats ahead of the 2022 World Cup.

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Chantelle D'mello

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Officials from Qatar and Bangladesh have agreed to a deal that could double the number of Bangladeshi workers in Qatar over the next two years, according to media reports.

According to Bangladeshi news agency UNB, Qatari authorities are keen to recruit some 300,000 more nationals in the near future.

There are currently an estimated 280,000 Bangladeshis living in Qatar.

Minister for Labour and Social Affairs, Issa bin Saad Al Naimi Juffali, meets Bangladeshi Minister of Expatriates' Welfare and Overseas Employment in Doha

QNA

Minister for Labour and Social Affairs, Issa bin Saad Al Naimi Juffali, meets Bangladeshi Minister of Expatriates’ Welfare and Overseas Employment in Doha

The new labor deal has come about after talks in Doha this week between the Bangladeshi Overseas Employment Minister Nurul Islam and Qatar’s Labour and Social Affairs Minister Issa Saad Al-Jafali Al-Nuaimi.

Crucially, the announcement signals a shift in focus away from hiring mostly unskilled laborers, toward hiring qualified staff like nurses, doctors, engineers and office workers, UNB reports.

Recruitment scams

Last year, another Bangladeshi delegation visited Qatar and agreed to a deal with the Qatari government for 50,000 more visas for Bangladeshi workers.

Announcing that deal, Bangladeshi’s previous Overseas Employment Minister, Khandker Hossain, said that Qatar had agreed to force local companies to only hire nationals who are registered in a government database in their home country, a move designed to stop its nationals from becoming victims to human traffickers and recruitment scams.

It is not clear whether this agreement was acted upon, and whether the new deal includes this stipulation.

More than a dozen men wait to use the ATMs at City Center Mall.

Shabina S. Khatri

More than a dozen men wait to use the ATMs at City Center Mall.

Bangladeshi ambassador Syed Masud Mahmood Khundoker told Doha News last year that the most common grievance from Bangladeshi workers in Qatar involved paying unscrupulous recruiters in Qatar for work visas that never materialized for friends or family members back home.

Remittances

Next month, Bangladeshi authorities are expected to form a working group in Dhaka to act on the agreement and focus efforts on meeting the 300,000 target.

The government is keen for more of its nationals to work in Qatar because expats are a vital part of the Bangladeshi economy, with the money its overseas workers send home each year making up around ten percent of the country’s GDP.

The Bangladeshi Bureau of Statistics says most of these workers (97.4 percent) are male, married (67.1 percent) and Muslim (97.8 percent.)

They’re also mostly under the age of 39 (78.2 percent)  and 61.5 percent of them have had less than 10 years education.

Bangladeshi officials are keen for more skilled workers to travel to Qatar for two reasons: firstly because they are likely to send more money home, and secondly because there is a lack of jobs for graduates in Bangladesh, with more than 40 percent of grads struggling to find work.

Bangladesh Embassy officials estimate that between 7,000 and 8,000 new Bangladeshis come to Qatar each month, and up to 70 percent of these work in the construction sector.

The remainder work as engineers, managers, Islamic scholars and approximately 9,000 are domestic workers, according to Mohammed Serajul Islam, the embassy’s labor counselor.

The latter in Qatar work for a Bangladesh government approved minimum rate of $205 (QR750) a month.

Thoughts?

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Hassan Sami Adnan/Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

A new ambassador for one of the largest communities in Qatar will arrive this month to represent Bangladesh after the embassy’s former head was reportedly recalled in April, officials have confirmed to Doha News.

The new chief will be career diplomat Ashud Ahmed, according to the Bangladesh Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which announced his placement in August but did not specify when he would move to Qatar.

The shakeup comes as tens of thousands of Bangladeshis are expected to move to Qatar to work on infrastructure projects ahead of the 2022 World Cup.

Prior to becoming Bangladesh’s ambassador to Qatar, Ahmed served as director general of Southeast Asia for his country’s ministry of foreign affairs.

He has previously worked in various capacities at the Bangladesh Consulate General in New York, the High Commission in Colombo, the embassy in Brussels and also at the Bangladesh Consulate General in Hong Kong.

Bangladeshi ambassador Syed Masud Mahmood Khundoker.

Peter Kovessy

Bangladeshi ambassador Syed Masud Mahmood Khundoker.

Ahmed will succeed Syed Masud Mohmood Khundoker, who left Qatar in late August, according to an embassy official.

The Dhaka Tribune reported in early April that Khundoker had been “recently recalled” from his posting, citing divisions among Qatar-based leaders of Bangladesh political parties.

In what it described as a “rare incident,” the Tribune said the Bangladesh Prime Minister’s Office had sent a written directive to the Foreign Ministry, asking for its Doha envoy to be brought back.

The Bangladesh Embassy in Qatar said Khundoker left Doha because “his tenure was up,”and said they were “not at all aware” of the reports of political differences.

Khudoker served for about two years in Qatar, after his appointment was announced in March 2013.

More workers

There are approximately 220,000 Bangladesh nationals living in Qatar, making it the fourth largest expatriate community behind India, Nepal and the Philippines.

In March this year, former Ambassador Khundoker told Doha News that Qatar officials had approved work visa applications for 50,000 Bangladeshis and that they were expected to arrive in the state by June.

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Aminul Islam Sajib/Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Embassy officials said at the time that the individuals already had job offers in Qatar, but were waiting for the government here to approve their applications.

Most will be working in the construction sector and were set to gradually arrive over the following three months.

“We’re happy to provide more workers,” Khundoker told Doha News.

More than 50,000 Bangladeshis have arrived in Qatar on work visas since January this year, embassy official Haque said.

Up to 8,000 Bangladeshis arrive in Qatar each month, embassy officials have previously said. Some 60 to 70 percent work work in the construction sector, while the remainder are engineers, managers, Islamic scholars and approximately 9,000 domestic workers.

There has also been a push to employ more medical staff and other professionals,  the embassy’s labor counselor Mohammed Serajul Islam previously said.

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

planetlight/Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Also earlier this year, Bangladeshi officials said they were trying to improve conditions for workers in the country by striking an agreement with Qatar only to hire people who have registered with the government’s central employee database.

The country’s minister for expatriates’ welfare and overseas employment Khandker Mosharraf Hossain confirmed the deal following a visit to Qatar earlier in the year. It is aimed at cracking down on rogue recruiters, who often charge illegal fees and make false salary promises.

However, some Bangladeshi workers in Qatar are still vulnerable to low wages. In 2013, local media reported that the Bangladesh government had agreed to send women to work in domestic service roles in Qatar for a minimum wage of just over $200 (QR750) a month.

This is nearly half the pay that has been demanded by other countries, including the Philippines, for its nationals working as domestic staff in Qatar and other Gulf states.

Thoughts?