Although there is increased awareness of the need for effective migration governance in order to safeguard the basic rights and safety of migrant workers in destination countries, little research has focused on how such governance efforts have been mobilised to date. This working paper is based on research on labour attachés for Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and India, and investigates an important component of migration governance as labour attachés serve as the main official point of contact between migrants at destination and their country of origin. They play an important role in mediating employment-related disputes and arranging work visas for their citizens who are abroad. Research was conducted in three destination countries, with labour attachés for India interviewed in United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Qatar, labour attachés from Sri Lanka interviewed in UAE and Malaysia, and labour attachés from Bangladesh interviewed in Qatar and Malaysia. Drawing on the findings of this research, the paper highlights the growing importance of labour migration in all three countries, and assesses recruitment and training procedures adopted by Bangladesh, India and Sri Lanka with respect to labour attachés. It then turns to consider the functions of labour attachés, as defined by both national law and international convention, and examines the challenges faced by labour attaché offices in terms of providing services to migrants, including lack of capacity, limited resources and policy incoherence. The paper also provides insights into migrants’ perceptions of labour attaché offices. It concludes with a set of policy recommendations aimed at improving the services that labour attachés render to migrants in destination countries.
Abrar, C.R.; Rajan, S.I.; Ruhunage, L.K.; Tasneem Siddiqui. Institutional Strengthening of the Office of Labour Attaché: Research Findings from Bangladesh, India and Sri Lanka. Migrating out of Poverty RPC Working Paper No. 23. Migrating out of Poverty Consortium, University of Sussex, Brighton, UK (2014) 36 pp.