Cyclone smashes Bangladeshi workers’ hopes, extension requested

MELAKA: Expensive airfares and flight cancellations due to Cyclone Remal have left scores of Bangladeshis in limbo as they are unable to meet the May 31 deadline for the hiring of foreign workers through the Labour Recalibration Programme 2.0.

A group of fresh workers from Bangladesh has sought the help of R. John Gananathan, who handles the welfare of foreign workers.

The 45-year-old social activist from Malim here said he has been receiving many calls from stranded workers and the companies that have paid for all the necessary documents to bring the foreigners into Malaysia before May 31.

“The Bangladeshis have spent a fortune to make their way to Malaysia for employment in the formal sector and their employers are also facing hardship now due to the situation,” he said in an interview.

John Gananathan said the Malaysia-bound workers were first stranded on May 26 and 27 when airlines flying out from Dhaka cancelled flights because of a powerful cyclone that had smashed into low-lying Bangladesh and India, killing at least 65 people on Sunday.

“I was told by the workers that there was no information on the new flight schedules and none of them can get to Malaysia before the deadline. The latest news that I received on the stranded workers was that the airline fares from Dhaka to KLIA cost a whopping RM3,000 for a one-way trip and the majority of them can’t afford to pay the amount,” he said.

John Gananathan suggested the Home Ministry give leeway to those who had applied and met the requirements for the Labour Recalibration Programme 2.0, due to unforeseen circumstances.

“The companies hiring the foreign workers would also be burdened by financial losses if no consideration of extending the deadline is given to assist those affected,” he said.

On March 8, Home Minister Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail said the government would not budge from the May 31 deadline for the hiring of foreign workers through the programme.

He said the decision was made collectively by all enforcement agencies under the ministry and other relevant ministries involved in the programme.

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