National

Nepal favours government deals to protect migrant workers

- CHANDAN KUMAR MANDAL, Kathmandu
Officials hope G2G model will help stop exploitation of poor Nepalis by recruiting firms and their agents

Aug 11, 2018-Bir Bahadur Waiba and his two friends paid Rs 50,000 each to Meridian Associates Pvt Ltd, a recruiting agency, for job placements in Dubai in the United Arab of Emirates. The tissue paper manufacturing company would pay them 1,300 UAE Dirhams per month, or Rs 38,987.07, they were told.

After waiting for long, the trio visited the recruiting agency, but they were shocked to find out the company was fake and the ‘agents’ had decamped with their money. The rouges shattered their dreams of working in the shopping hub of the Middle East and living a good life.

“They promised us jobs and took Rs 150,000 from us, but they cheated us,” Waiba said. The resident of Sindhuli has filed a complaint against the company at the Department of Foreign Employment (DoFE) with the hope of restitution.

This example of dubious agents cheating migrant workers is one of the many rampant in the country. Unscrupulous agents charge hapless workers exorbitant fees, far more than the government ceiling, put them on a plane to one of the many countries in the Middle East or Far East that seek migrant workers from Nepal, and then ignore them.

Many workers reach foreign destinations with high hopes and aspirations of a good job and salaries with the goal of remitting money to their families in Nepal and alleviating their financial stresses. For many, the land of dreams often ends in a nightmare. Their employers often compel them to do menial jobs that are far different from those mentioned in their agreements handed by the agents.

In a bid to quell similar malpractices prevailing in the foreign employment sector, the government plans government-to-government (G2G) modalities to spare workers harassment and trauma in unknown foreign countries.

Nepal favours the G2G model to stop the ongoing exploitation of poor migrant workers by recruiting agencies and their agents, thriving unchecked for years.

Currently, the Ministry of Labour, Employment and Social Security is mulling over the G2G model with a few countries.

Ministry Spokesperson Prakash Dahal said, “The G2G model could manage the overall migrant labour sector and help both the countries and workers.”

Some major labour destinations for Nepal like Qatar and Malaysia have expressed their interest in hiring Nepali workers through the G2G model. Nepal has already adopted this model with South Korea since 2008.

Designated departments of both governments handle labour migration, excluding the recruiting agencies and their touts who fleece workers.

The ministry has studied various G2G models implemented by other countries. Discussions on this topic continue at the diplomatic level. Labour Minister Gokarna Bista, during his meeting with envoys from Qatar and Japan, stressed devising G2G for hassle-free migration of workers.

The Malaysian government has shown interest in G2G because the flow of Nepali workers to Kuala Lumpur is on hold after Nepal cracked down on dubious agencies. The government recently banned Nepali workers, including those who held valid visas, from travelling to Malaysia, following reports of cheating by recruiting agencies.

Labour migration expert Ganesh Gurung lauded the government for pushing G2G. However, he says its implementation might take a long time, halt labour migration, and the system would be against the ‘open market policy’ adopted by the country.

“Agreeing on a G2G model is not an easy task. It takes months before both countries agree on a common mechanism. Meanwhile, workers cannot take up those jobs and remain jobless,” said Gurung. Some recruiting agencies oppose the government’s preference for G2G, saying it wants to discourage the private sector.

Nepal Association of Foreign Employment Agencies President Rohan Gurung said the move would stifle taxpaying private companies and send a strong message against the employment policy.

“With G2G model, many recruiting agencies would close and spike the government’s source of tax. The government talks about setting up industries and creating job opportunities at home, and it wants to send migrant workers through G2G, which contradicts its policy,” said Gurung.

Published: 11-08-2018 08:09

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