Five Bangladesh nationals working at a construction company in Labasa claim they have been ill-treated by their employer for the past year.
The five have lodged their complaint with the Fiji Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission. The commission’s office has confirmed receipt of the complaint.
Speaking on behalf of the complainants, Mostafa Kamla said they came as construction workers for the company, Estate Builders, overseeing the construction of the Golden Age Home in Labasa.
The company denies their claims (see below).
Mr Kamla said they had spent about $10,000 in air ticket and other expenses to come and work in Fiji.
He said the agent had promised them decent wages, that would help them provide for their families back at home. Mr Kamla said their employer had treated them well in the first two months when they arrived on March 20, 2020, before things started to change.
He alleged their passports were taken by their employer and their contracts reduced to one year from the initial three years.
Mr Kamla alleged they were also physically, verbally and emotionally abused.
“We have lodged three complaints with the Ministry of Labour and a Police report,” Mr Kamla said.
“We don’t feel safe anymore and want to return home. We are asking the Government to assist us,” he pleaded.
Another labourer, Jakirul Islam said they didn’t expect to be threatened or ill-treated in such a beautiful country.
“We have only been able to send about $4000 back to our families who are fully relying on this remittance back home.
“For the past two months, we have had no work and we don’t have any money left,” Mr Islam said.
He shared that one day when their neighbour invited them for dinner at their place, the matter was reported to Police.
“Our neighbour had invited us to have dinner at their place since we don’t have food but was taken by surprise when someone reported to the Police that we were social gathering,” he said.
Divisional Police Commander (DPC) North Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Tomasi Bulimaibau confirmed a report was made, but the Bangladesh nationals have explained their difficult situation.
Estate Builders owner, Pranil Singh claimed the allegations raised by the foreign nationals were false, and that the Ministry of Employment was handling their case.
Minister for Employment, Productivity and Industrial Relations Parveen Bala said that they were concerned, and investigation into the case was underway.
The Fiji Immigration Department is also working with the Ministry of Employment to assist the five complainants to return home.
Director for Immigration Amelia Komaisavai said the grievances from these complainants related to employment conditions, so the Ministry of Employment should be in a better position to respond to the complaint and any publication in relation to the matter.
Ms Komaisavai said the Immigration Department will monitor the situation and take the necessary action following advice from the ministry.
Edited by Caroline Ratucadra
This content was originally published here.