Dr Bilesha Weeraratne Sheds Light on the Evolving Landscape of Labour Migration

2 April 2024

Participating in NewsFirst – TV 1’s ‘The People’s Platform’, IPS Research Fellow Dr Bilesha Weeraratne offered valuable insights into the evolving landscape of labour migration and the increased risks faced by Sri Lankan migrants. The discussion focused on a notable shift away from traditional, formal recruitment channels towards informal networks. This change has been influenced by both push factors, such as the economic crisis in Sri Lanka, and pull factors from destination countries like Oman and UAE, which now offer visit visas to potential migrant workers for exploratory purposes.

The reliance on informal networks, while convenient, significantly increases the vulnerability of migrants. The absence of regulation and accountability within these networks heightens the risks of exploitation, wage theft, and various abuses throughout the recruitment and employment phases.

Furthermore, Dr Weeraratne discussed the need for the government to take a strategic approach to maximising the positive impacts of migration while minimising drawbacks. This includes revisiting policies and regulations governing labour migration and ensuring protection for all migrants, regardless of registration status, with the Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment (SLBFE). She emphasised the importance of updating the SLBFE Act to reflect changing dynamics and provide comprehensive support to all migrants, considering the significant contributions they make to the country through remittances.

Watch the full discussion here.