Nafea set to launch another round of strike

  • free-visa-free-ticket policy
- Post Report, Kathmandu

Feb 12, 2016-

Nepal Association of Foreign Employment Agencies (Nafea), an umbrella organisation of recruiting agencies in Nepal, has threatened to halt all foreign employment related services unless the government revises the free-visa-free-ticket policy to address their concerns.

Nafea representatives said that they would disrupt the services if the government did not suspend the low-cost recruitment schemes within the given deadline. The association had given the concerned authorities a February 12 ultimatum to replace the scheme and with an improved one. 

“We were assured that there would be proper revision in the scheme based on objective analysis. But nothing has happened yet. We will be forced to take extreme measures if the concerned authorities fail to act in good faith,” said Nafea First Vice-chairman Kumud Khanal. Nafea officials have even warned of another indefinite strike and disrupt all foreign employment related services later this month. 

The recruiting agencies had decided to launch another round of strike soon after Prime Minister KP Oli himself spoke in defence of the scheme last month. But 

they put off the plan in view of the Tarai crisis and border blockade. 

Nafea had launched a month-long strike soon after the free-visa-free-ticket scheme was introduced in July last year. The association called off the strike after reaching a 31-point agreement with the government. In the agreement, the government has pledged to revise the scheme based on the recommendation of a joint panel after a wider consultation on the matter with local authorities and stakeholders in the labour receiving countries. 

Last year, a joint panel comprising Nafea representatives, government officials and other experts had visited various labour destinations to take feedback on the free-visa-free-ticket scheme. The panel had found employers and concerned stakeholders of all major work destinations in favour of the new scheme, with the exception of Malaysia. 

The free-visa-and-free-ticket provision, intended at preventing economic exploitation of workers in the name of recruitment fees, came into force on July 6. The scheme binds employers of the seven major work destinations for Nepali workers--Malaysia, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Oman and Kuwait--to bear the costs of ticket and visa processing while recruiting Nepali workers. An estimated 3.5 million Nepali migrants work in the seven countries. 

Recruitment agencies claim that the decision has taken heavy toll on their business as the employers are hiring workers from other countries. There has been heavy decline in job demand after the scheme came into effect. Official figures, however, suggest a steady rise in demands for Nepalis workers from all work destinations except Malaysia. 

Officials at the Ministry of Foreign Employment (MoLE), however, said that there would not be any immediate change to the free-visa-free-ticket scheme. “Several senior government officials and politicians are putting relentless pressure to revise the rule ever since its introduction. But there won’t be any immediate changes,” said an official. But an informed source within the ministry told the Post that there could be changes if the scheme is approved by Malaysia, the largest work destination where around 700,000 Nepali work.

Published: 12-02-2016 07:54

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