Protecting migrant workers’ rights in Nepal

Ms. Prem Kumari Pant

Chief Ed. The Weekly Mirror, Nepal

Lack of effective implementation or no implementation of plans and policies is one of the major anomalies marring the country.

The current issue of a free-visa- free-ticket system just attests to this fact.

Last year, the government made as big announcement as implementing a free-visa-f ree ticket labour migration to Nepalis. Unsurprisingly, it came as good news to both the current and aspiring migrant workers.

Under the free visa-free ticket system, an outbound migrant worker has to pay only up to Rs. 17,000, including service charge of up to Rs. 10,000, to the employment agencies, for going to Malaysia, Bahrain, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Oman and Kuwait. When the migrant workers had to pay for visas and tickets as well, the manpower agencies could maximize their commissions.

However, less than a year later, the government seems to be making avolte-face regarding the very decision. It is likely the government will give carte blanche to the recruiting agencies to charge some processing fees.

In fact, these agencies have been protesting against the system which is creating unwarranted troubles for the migrant workers.

Ambiguity on a low-cost regime that the government promised has complicated and delayed the processing by recruitment agencies. The problem mainly arises from the government’s failure to reach an agreement with receiving countries, except Qatar and Bahrain, on ensuring charge-free recruitment.

That the manpower agencies are often leaned to financially exploit the gullible migrant workers goes without saying. They have been charging exorbitant fees from the workers in a foxy way.

They not only illicitly o foreign job employment aspirants and clients but also leave them stranded in foreign lands and sending them to a different destination instead of the promised station.

Besides, these manpower companies have been receiving commission from international companies for the supply of workers through illegal channel and not paying tax.

As such, the system was announced with an aim

to help ameliorate the situation.

There are several steps the government can take to assist in reducing the cost for migrant workers. The stress should be on making the whole process inexpensive, safe and reliable.

The concerned authorities will do well to emulate

the systems other countries have put in place to ‘protect migrant workers from exploitation.

Establishing a clear framework that works in favour of the migrants is the need of the hour.

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