South Asian migrants working in the multi-billion dollar construction industry in Arab Gulf countries are shouldering the costs of their own recruitment fees while companies and their clients are reaping the benefits from inexpensive labour, according to a study by the New York University’s Stern Centre for Business and Human Rights.
Workers spend an average of 10 to 18 months’ worth of salary paying off the fees that help facilitate their migration. Workers from Bangladesh are paying the highest fees in the world. Bangladeshis earning just a few hundred dollars a month in the Gulf are paying recruitment fees ranging from around $1,700 (Dh6,244) and $5,200. Indian migrants are paying an average of between $1,000 and $3,000.
There are laws in place banning Gulf-based employers from directly charging migrant workers for their own recruitment. Selling visas is also illegal in the six Gulf Cooperation Countries (GCC) of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman and Bahrain. The study calls on Arab governments to enforce laws against the selling of visas and on migrant-sending countries to legalize and regulate their local networks of unregistered recruitment agents.