South Asia: Workers continue to be bribed by recruitment companies for Gulf jobs with promising pay
Author: Nikhil Eapen, The Wire, Published on: 21 October 2019
"$15 Billion: What South Asian Workers Have Paid in Bribes for Gulf Jobs" 21 October 2019
Remittance earnings ensure economic prosperity. Young women and men in the Gulf who hold jobs as labourers, domestic workers, cleaners and security guards save up to renovate their homes, send their children to school and buy them toys and books.
The ILO says South Asian workers have paid recruiters billions of dollars in excess of the real costs of recruitment.
South Asia received over $131 billion as remittances in 2018 – more than any other region in the world, and nearly twice the inflows to China. A significant portion of the region’s remittances is from small savings made by thousands of low-paid migrant workers in the Gulf.
Recruitment charges comprise two parts. First, a number of true costs including visa processing fees, air tickets, passport, insurance, medical fees and other administrative charges. The second part consists of service fees and undefined expenses: commissions, bribes and so on.
Recruiters in India and Bangladesh estimate that the true costs of recruiting workers in the country of origin is $400-$650. Yet workers make much larger payouts, some have been known to pay upto $10,000 in recruitment fees.
Labour laws in Qatar, Saudi Arabia, UAE and Bahrain prohibit employers from transferring recruitment costs. Yet these are easily shifted because thousands of agencies are willing to recruit without charge, or even pay for recruitment contracts.
In the worst cases, migrants find themselves in debt bondage – trapped into working for little or no pay until the debt is repaid.