House panel: Ensure minimum wage

- ROSHAN SEDHAI, Kathmandu

Apr 15, 2016-

Pointing out the blatant exploitation of thousands of workers at the hands of the recruiting agencies, large corporate offices and government and non-government agencies, a Parliament committee has asked the government to ensure a minimum wage to workers employed through outsourcing firms.

The International Relations and Labour Committee (IRLC), a sub-legislative committee under the Legislature Parliament has said that the workers employed through the hiring firms are facing serious discrimination on pay and other benefits despite being forced to work extra hours. 

In a letter to the Office of Prime Minster and Council of Ministers, the parliamentary body has asked the government to provide the minimum wage to the workers as per the law. The committee has also directed the Ministry of Labour and Employment to formulate a clear policy to bring the outsourcing firms under the purview of the labour law, besides ensuring equal pay and benefits. 

“Our attention was drawn towards this matter after receiving hundreds of complaints from the concerned workers. We found out that hundreds of governmental and non-governmental organisations were reaping off workers against the government provision,” said IRLC Chair Prabhu Sah.

It is the first time a high-profile body has picked up cases related to exploitation faced by employees working through various recruiting agencies. The recruiting agencies have been hotbed for exploitation of workers in recent years, within a growing number of large corporate offices banking on them for a cheap workforce.

Neil (name changed), an employee at the Sanima bank who was hired through Suvida Sewa, a Kathmandu-based outsourcing firm, said he was getting only half the salary of what his friends in similar positions are drawing at other A-grade banks. 

“All of us do almost the same work at our respective banks. But I am paid only half of what my friend would get in salary. Besides, there is no guarantee that the company will retain me after I complete the contract period,” said Neil, who holds a Master’s degree. 

Maya (name changed), who landed a job at NIC Asia Bank through J&T agency, dreads losing her job after expiry of a contract. 

“Many banks that directly hire workers make their employees permanent after a six-month probation period. We have to search another job after our contract expires or renew contract,” said Maya, who shares Neil’s sentiment that the practice as blatant violation of workers’ rights. Besides banks, a large number of hospitals, NGOs, INGOs, education consultancies, schools, among others nowadays source out hiring responsibilities to recruiting firms.  

An estimated 200 outsourcing agencies are in operation across the country. But not a single outsourcing agency has been registered at the Department of Labour, a government body required to oversee the labour related affairs, according to officials.

“The existing Labour Act is silent on this topic which makes it difficult to ascertain what to do with it. What is why we have not registered any such outsourcing agencies,” said Director General of the Department of Labour Barun Kumar Jha. But he assured that the department would coordinate with the line ministry and other concerned stakeholders to regulate and monitor the outsourcing agencies.

International Relations and Labour Committee says workers employed through firms face discrimination on pay and other benefits

 

Published: 15-04-2016 08:16

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