NEWS

More Recruiting Scam Claims By Bangladesh Nationals

The company has strongly denied the claims and said they were ready to provide evidence to the newspaper against the claims made.
11 Mar 2021 11:00
More Recruiting Scam Claims By Bangladesh Nationals
Fiji Human Rights And Anti-Discrimination Commission director Ashwin Raj in discussion with Bangladeshi nationals Kamroj Jaman and Mohammed Hossan in Suva on March 10, 2021. Photo: Inoke Rabonu

The Fiji Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission is investigating a case of alleged human rights violation on two Bangladesh nationals who were recruited to Fiji to work in a construction company.

According to the commission, the duo were recruited by the same local recruiter who was alleged to have recruited workers for a poultry company, earlier reported by this newspaper.

The claims

In a meeting with Mr Raj, the Bangladesh nationals alleged that:

  • Workers were not given copies of signed contracts;
  • No internal mechanisms to raise grievances – when they raise grievances, they are suspended without pay;
  • The workers are made to work on public holidays and Sundays without being paid double time;
  • Irregularities in payment of salary ( for instance payslip states $10/hour but the actual payment was $45 for eight hours of work in a day which is far less than $10/hour for work they do from Monday to Sunday – no double time for Sundays they work);
  • No provision of sick sheets in 2020 – the workers do not get paid when they are on sick leave; the management advised the workers that they will not accept sick -sheets. If they are sick, they can stay home but without being paid. At one time, four workers got sick and went to private hospital, three of them were charged $900 and one $300 and all were asked to bear the full costs on their own. They had earlier gone to public hospital but were not seen;
  • No medical attention or care given by the company;
  • Verbally abused. The company director, company human resource manager and the local recruiter are alleged to have used swear and vulgar language when the workers question or raise grievances;
  • These workers also paid FJD$13,000 through the local recruiter to come to Fiji.
  • Two of the workers want to return home, but have been advised by company HR to pay for their own tickets, the workers cannot afford a ticket to go back home; and
  • It is alleged that the local recruiter dictates terms to all the companies where he has recruited workers from Bangladesh. It has been established that this particular local recruiter has facilitated workers from Bangladesh for at least four companies in Fiji;

Meanwhile, the company in question has confirmed to the Fiji Sun that they had received a call from the commission with regards to the claims and were going to receive a written correspondence from the commission today.

The company has strongly denied the claims and said they were ready to provide evidence to the newspaper against the claims made.

HRADC also investigates human rights  violation involving Filipino Seafarers

The commission is also in receipt of complaints from 16 Filipino workers working for a local shipping company.

The workers have raised allegations of serious breach of human rights which include: nonpayment of salaries, non-provision of food, no medical attention while on the ship, living in unhygienic condition in ships infested with cockroaches, concerns over safety and security conditions on the vessel, insufficient time for rest and recuperation.

  • The 16 workers have conveyed to the Commission that they wish to return to the Philippines, but do not have the financial means to go back home,
  • The commission is working very closely with the Anti-Trafficking Unit of the Fiji Police Force on this matter.

Ashwin Raj’s response

The director of the commission, Ashwin Raj, is once again imploring everyone in the private sector to adhere to human rights principles.

“Human rights does not only apply to the state but to the private actors as well,” Mr Raj said.

“When companies recruit foreign nationals, they must ensure that the conditions are consistent with human dignity and there is respect for human rights.

“The commission is investigating the two complaints and has informed both, the Department of Immigration and the Anti-Trafficking Unit of the Fiji Police Force regarding the allegations. The workers have also filed their grievances with the Ministry of Employment.”

He added that the commission has also notified both companies under scrutiny about these allegations.

Edited by Caroline Ratucadra

Feedback: inoke.rabonu@fijisun.com.fj



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