Migrant workers in Asia approach pre-pandemic levels
Cross-border traffic of migrant workers in Asia is on the rise as the effect of the pandemic fades. In 2022, the number of new migrant workers totaled 4.6 million, close to the figure before the COVID-19 outbreak, after countries eased or eliminated restrictions imposed to stop the spread of infections.
Labor migration in India is crucial for economic growth and improving the socio-economic condition of people. There are more than 500 million blue-collar workers in India. Over 73% of them migrate to different states in search of sustainable livelihoods.
Do you get angry when you see a migrant refusing to speak your language in your country?
I’ve seen such a thing. All migrants in the relocated country at least try to speak where they work, when spoken to or when they have to make themselves understood. Folks from the hinterland (village unskilled farm hands) bear the hardships due to lack of communication skills.
They are casual and unskilled workers who move about systematically from one region to another offering their services on a temporary, usually seasonal, basis. They leave their hometown and went to a big city for work.
They work in poor conditions, with little to no access to social welfare schemes. Together, with their families who accompany them, they face various risks that remain unaddressed.
The pandemic highlighted and exacerbated the tough realities of India’s migrant workforce. They suffered tremendously at different stages of reverse migration. Studies show that lack of planning led to economic challenges like wage theft, retrenchments, lack of social security, employer accountability, mobility issues, and huge social discrimination.
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While Bangladesh became the biggest origin of migrant laborers, remittances by overseas workers in general hit an all-time high, helping the economies of home countries.
In late June, the Philippines’ Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) in Manila was crowded with people looking for jobs overseas. “I easily found a high-paying job,” said Juviline Llenado, who will work as a domestic helper in Saudi Arabia. To support her family, she plans to leave for the oil-rich kingdom in July.
Remittances to home countries in Asia-Pacific region hit record high in 2022
Merchant sailors, who are treated as migrant workers in the Philippines, are also swelling the ranks. There were around 500,000 Filipino merchant sailors in 2019 but this number plunged during the COVID crisis. However, in the first three months of this year, the number stood at around 150,000. Susan Ople, secretary of the DMW, said, “You can see that the road to recovery is very clear”.
If migrants can help other countries, then why can’t they help their own country?
This is usually due to the fact that political situations in other countries differ from those of the migrants. If, for example, someone from North Korea were to escape and make their way to the United States, how exactly would that person be expected to help their own country by staying in North Korea and dying as a traitor to North Korea rather than traveling to the US?
There were 4.6 million new migrant workers in Asia in 2022, marking a sharp rebound from 1.8 million in 2020 and 2.2 million in 2021, according to the Asian Development Bank Institute (ADBI), the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and the International Labor Organization. With China having ended its zero-COVID policy, the number is forecast to continue growing this year and could hit the pre-pandemic level of 5 million workers.
Asia’s wage hikes to accelerate in 2023
Workers in Asia are set to see bigger salary bumps in 2023 as persistent inflation and a labor crunch put upward pressure on pay, recent studies show.
From India to Vietnam, employers have been compelled to enhance compensation packages or risk losing talent to rivals. Expected pay hikes are also on track to beat inflation forecasts for 2023, providing hopes for real income growth in Asia after living costs surged this year.
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In Search of Local Employment
Reasons for migration of workers
Mostly we see seasonal migration of workers, an overwhelming 120 million people or more are estimated to migrate from rural areas to urban labor markets, industries and farms. One of the main reasons of migration is shortage of rainfall or excess rainfall. Mostly they are from regions that face frequent shortages of rainfall or suffer floods, or where population densities are high in relation to land. Areas facing unresolved social or political conflicts also become prone to high out migration. Poverty, lack of local options and the availability of work elsewhere become the trigger and the pull for rural migration respectively.
Most migrant workers have a seasonal nature of employment. During off-seasons, they struggle to feed their families. Repeated lockdowns made situations more difficult for migrants to find jobs in their localities. They faced travel restrictions which hindered their job search as well.
Workers need to be able to search and apply for hyperlocal jobs through a singular platform when they need it. Companies need workforce management systems that can facilitate end-to-end automation of hiring workflows, right from lead generation, screening, and interview scheduling to onboarding. For companies, this is a great way to tap into a large pool of candidates and hire workers at scale when demand is high.
Demand for foreign workers has rebounded sharply because of the global economic recovery spurred by the easing of border controls. In particular, oil-producing countries in the Middle East, such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, are accepting large numbers of workers from Bangladesh and other South Asian countries.
Saudi Arabia and other Persian Gulf nations have been pushing ahead with real estate and infrastructure investment on the back of high crude oil prices. Although the aggressive spending is aimed at diversifying the countries’ energy-reliant industries, it has caused labor shortages in construction and other areas over the near term. To make up for the shortage, the route from South Asia to the Middle East has become the biggest corridor for the traffic of migrant workers in Asia.
In 2022, Saudi Arabia accepted a record 1.5 million workers from Asian countries and regions, according to the ADBI. This included more than 600,000 and 500,000 from Bangladesh and Pakistan, respectively. The UAE and Oman also accepted many workers from the two countries.
The presence of workers from Bangladesh is also noticeable in Southeast Asia. For example, Singapore and Malaysia each accepted more than 50,000 workers. In addition, more than 40,000 went to Malaysia from Indonesia.
Bangladesh surpassed the Philippines as Asia’s biggest supply of migrant workers in 2022 at 1.13 million. The number of laborers from the Philippines exceeded 1.6 million in 2016 and 2019 but declined in 2020. Despite a recovery to 820,000 in 2022, the Philippines fell behind Bangladesh.
Of Asian migrant workers who went to the U.S. and Europe, Indians outnumber others. U.S. work visas — such as the H1B issued to IT workers and other professionals — were obtained by 200,000 Indians in 2022, up 34% from 2019. In contrast, there were only 8,000 Chinese workers who headed to the U.S., reflecting U.S.-China tensions.
Migrant workers, sometimes referred to as diaspora, underpin the economy of their home countries by sending money to their families. Remittances to the Asia-Pacific region totaled an all-time high of $340 billion in 2022, accounting for about 40% of all international money transfers.
For emerging and developing countries, remittances from migrant workers are now valuable sources of foreign currency apart from foreign direct investment and official development assistance. The remittances shore up personal consumption and capital spending.
India received the largest amount of remittances, followed by China and the Philippines. Tonga and Samoa in the South Pacific and Kyrgyz and Tajikistan in Central Asia received remittances equal to more than 30% of each country’s gross domestic product. As Central Asian diaspora often work in Russia, they may continue to be affected by developments in the war between Russia and Ukraine.
What are 3 major challenges faced by the salesman of the FMCG company?
Casual employment is a prominent feature of labor markets in developing countries,
and has grown in importance in industrialized countries. In Bangladesh and India,
nearly two-thirds of wage employment is casual; in Mali and Zimbabwe, one in three
employees is casual. In Australia, where casual employment is a specific employment category, one out of four employees is casual.
The job of a FMCG salesman is very challenging.
To keep himself motivated in tough times when he is not able to do his targets on various parameters.
Day to day handling of retailers in market, where retailer will not be satisfied on many aspects e.g. damage/expiry/credit/scheme/freebie etc. A salesman has to counter the retailer & maintain relation with him.
Placement of new product on target outlets in market. Now a days most of the FMCG companies are either entering new categories or developing new products. At the end of the day its salesman who has to go n convince the retailer to keep the innovations. At times there can be a new launch every month.
Other than this there are many regular challenges like being in market everyday irrespective pf the weather condition. Have food mostly outside in mkt even though he is carrying it from home. Driving bike everyday to take orders from market. Managing high profile visits frequently etc.
So a salesman lives a challenging life & he is the most important person in the entire chain. Retailers know a company because of him. He is the face of the company.
In industrialized countries, the diversification of part-time work into “very short hours” or “on-call” work, including “zero-hours” contracts (with no guaranteed minimum hours), has parallels with casual work in developing countries. In the United Kingdom, 2.5 per cent of employees were on zero-hours contracts at the end of 2015. Approximately 10 per cent of the workforce in the United States have irregular and on-call work schedules, with the lowest-income workers the
The main challenges you would face as a salesman in any field whatever it is FMCG or any other sector/industry.
Product knowledge- if you work as a sales executive in FMCG industry or any other sector then you have to be knowledge about company’s various products or services specially in which you are dealing with.
Communication- communication gap between you and customers would be one of the major problems ever faced while you are in the marketplace. So u have to work on that and gap should be removed.
Fatigue, tiredness or unwillingness- from my personal experience I consider tiredness or unwilling to do hard work as a major problem. It will comes due to many reasons like- given a big geographic area to survey within certain time, ii. Huge target given by the management to the sales executive which is beyond his capabilities, iii. Any personal reasons or unwillingness to do work.
Being demotivated when client reject to take products or services.
My friend you will face a lot of problems during the earlier period of your career but my advise is never be demotivated. Just remember that nature gift you success wrapped by many problems. If you face it positively then you must end with succeed.
Challenges Faced by Migrant Workers and How Companies Can Address Them
India’s migrant workers suffered tremendously at different stages of reverse migration. Studies show that lack of planning led to economic challenges like wage theft, retrenchments, lack of social security, employer accountability, mobility issues, and social discrimination.
Insurance Benefits in a Pandemic Environment
Migrant workers work in precarious conditions with little wages and no access to government schemes and services. Poor and unsafe working and living conditions make them prone to diseases. Greater threats of occupational illnesses, nutritional diseases, alcoholism, HIV, and communicable diseases are rampant in the migrant workforce.
The pandemic has further elevated the risks. While the government is doing much to bring them under social security schemes, it’s time for employers to streamline the efforts.
Timely and Fair Payment of Wages
The informal workforce in India consists of more than 150.6 million regular and daily wage earners. Most of these workers are unaware of their rights as ‘migrant workers’. Many unscrupulous agents coerce them and don’t pay minimum wages as per law.
This reduces many human errors and the burdens of workforce management on HR personnel and supervisors. Regular and overtime calculations, EPF contributions, and salary slips, all are generated within a click providing convenience and fostering employee trust.
Workers may be housed in unsanitary conditions, which are especially dangerous for children. If the company provides food for its employees, it is often low quality and not very nutritious. With many families living together in the same facility, important items such as showers, ovens and toilets may break down. Problems faced by migrants include being subjected to harsh conditions on the job, such as working in extreme weather for long hours with no breaks.
Problems faced by migrant worker include discrimination and stereotyping even when they are away from the job site. Local residents may discriminate or resent migrant workers for taking the available jobs in the area. Migrant workers are often isolated from their neighbors because they do not speak the language and shop mostly at ethnic stores. The language barrier can also make it difficult to understand legal documents such as leases and tax forms.
Children of migrant workers often miss school and fall behind their peers because they have to work along with the rest of the family. Child labor laws are typically not enforced among the migrant population, so there is no protection for the children. Even when the child does not perform any actual work, he may spend the day at the job site with his parents because there is no available daycare. Families tend to move according to the seasons, which makes it even more difficult for the children to keep up in school.
Condition of Migrant workers in India
Challenges like Struggling with low wages, physical and sexual exploitation with safety and security are problems faced by migrant workers and more specifically the unorganized sector in India. We might find better condition of these workers on paper but in reality nothing is good with them and no labour laws are followed by industrialists. They are forced to work more hours without extra wages and even get less wages than directed by government.
They often get caught in exploitative labor arrangements that forces them to work in low-end, low-value, hazardous work. Lack of identity and legal protection accentuates this problem. The hardships of migrant workers are especially magnified when state boundaries are crossed and the distance between the “source” and “destination” increases
Migrants can also become easy victims of identity politics and parochialism. The urban labour markets treat them with opportunistic indifference extracting hard labour but denying basic entitlements such as decent shelter, fair priced food, subsidized healthcare facilities or training and education. They are people who are affected first, whenever such types of crisis comes but nobody pays attention to theirs problems.
A New Dawn for the Migrant Workforce
For too long, migrant workers have been a victim of exclusion. In this new India, where smartphone and internet connectivity are fast spreading across Tier-I and Tier-II cities, companies have new opportunities to bring workers under various benefits schemes.
Better place with its end-to-end workforce management solutions enables companies to provide the above benefits and more in a cost-effective manner.