How migrant workers get trapped in debt to recruiters | Letter

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, 17/08/2022, 4:57 pm

John Gee says employers should rigorously check how their staff are recruited to prevent them being exploited by intermediaries

It was saddening to see the report on Indonesian farm workers being obliged to pay recruitment fees (Revealed: Indonesian workers on UK farm ‘at risk of debt bondage’, 14 August), but it would not surprise anyone who has worked with transnational migrant workers, particularly from developing countries.

For 19 years, I have volunteered with a Singaporean NGO, Transient Workers Count Too, that works to further migrant workers’ rights and wellbeing, and we have researched how much workers pay recruiters to obtain jobs. We found that Bangladeshi men recruited to work in construction typically took on debts equivalent to a year’s earnings (including maximum overtime), and normally took about 18 months to pay them off.

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