Coronavirus lockdown hurts thousands of poor Bangladeshi workers

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Bangladeshi working in a shop – Pictured by Malaysia World News ( kl, March 26).

Large numbers of low income Bangladeshi workers in Malaysia, as in their home country, have almost lost their livelihoods, in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic that brought the economy to a standstill.

The river, the streets, the sky, the sea are all empty and silent. All fishermen went back to the village and all factories are closed.  The country is in a lockdown nationwide, and it s hurting the poor the most. Everybody is uncertain what is to come next.

Most of them rely on daily wages. They have no income now as they don’t work due to the movement control order (MCO) that is  taking place until April 14.

400,000 Bangladeshi workers, who have been working legally in Malaysia, have to hide at home now – or rather say ‘stay at home’ as ordered by the authorities to prevent getting infected by the virus, but who cares what are they eating or how their sick parents and children are doing at the lockdown home. 

Thousands of of these migrants work in factories, shops and construction. Many fear the coronavirus pandemic could cost them their livelihood if the factories or companies where they work continue to close. It will be very hard for them to continue earning a living.

“The current situation of the Bangladeshis is not good. We are getting more sick while sitting in the room in the lockdown, and the money we have is gone. And the company is not giving us any information, ” Arif, a warehouse assistant supervisor from Bangladish told Malaysia World News(MWN) yesterday.

“If the lockdown deadline is extended then we should not eat, ” he added.

Asked if he and his country friends here recieve any assistance from the gvernment or welfare organizations during this novement control order (MCO) , he said:

” I do not know we have not yet received anything from the government or anyone. ”

Some of them have old parents and many children to feed and take care of. Some have no food to put on table. They have to pay for rent, food, medicine, and support their poor families, schooling kids and parents.

They can not go back home either, first because of the current travel restrictions,  secondary their own country Bangladesh is in a lockdown too, and suffers the wort. All companies over there have closed doors due to coronavirus. Some companies has already bankrupted.

Factory workers, constructors,  ect used to earn enough money to provide their families. They used to earn at least RM40 per day. But now, with most of the boats have left the village, and most of the factories and companies have been closed out of fear from coronavirus outbreak and the lockdown enforcement, these people earn nothing now, their income has gone.

In Bangladesh, this time,  most of them queue for daily food handouts and charities. There is no job in the town now, and even if there is one they are not allowed to leave their homes. 

Bangladeshis in Malaysia form a large proportion of Malaysia’s foreign labour force. 

In early 2016, Malaysian government wanted to bring a total of 1.5 million Bangladeshi workers in stages for 3 years to Malaysia, but this decision was revoked later after it was met with criticism from general Malaysian public.

According to a 2015 World Bank report, Bangladeshi migrants get one of the lowest wages in Malaysia. Researchers say the workers often remain in debt. In many cases, they are sent abroad with forged work visas and then remain undocumented or return home empty-handed. – Malaysia World News


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Graduate with a Master of Mass Communication. 10 years working experience in the media and broadcasting.

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