EPS for destination South Korea on again

KATHMANDU: The government of Nepal and South Korea have started anew the process of the bilateral labour pact —Employment Permit System (EPS) — for the next two years. The Ministry of Labour and Transport Management (MoLTM) sent a draft of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for this to South Korea’s Ministry of Labour on Thursday.

“We have sent a draft of the MoU to South Korea incorporating our areas of interest,” said Purna Chandra Bhattarai, joint secretary at MoLTM. The areas of interest consist of increase in number, protection of workers and diversifying the fields. “MoLTM has proposed a draft which will be finalized through negotiation,” he said.

Nepal and South Korea had signed an agreement on July 23, 2007 to provide employment opportunities to Nepali workers in agriculture, fisheries, manufacturing, service and construction sectors. Under the agreement, foreign workers are entitled to salaries and benefits at par with Korean counterparts. Currently, EPS aspirants are getting monthly salary of $970 to $1,000 depending on the area of work.

South Korea, a dream destination of Nepali blue-collar jobseekers, has hired 2,831 Nepali — two-thirds of the total 6,768 aspirants in the EPS roster. Around 1,91,592 migrant workers from 15 developing countries are working in South Korea under EPS. Vietnam tops the list with 50,869 workers followed by Thailand (31,170), the Philippines (30,328), Indonesia (23,574), Mongolia (18,267) and Sri Lanka (16,228).

Nepali migrant workers working in South Korea have been contributing Rs 2 billion annually in remittance. “Nepalis working in South Korea are earning more than those in other countries so MoLTM has special focus on it,” said Bhattarai. MoLTM has placed EPS and Japan International Training Cooperation Organization (JITCO) in priority programmes for the fiscal year 2009-10. EPS hires foreign labour aged between 18 to 39 years through a rigorous selection process of Korean Language Test (KLT) followed by listing in roster, labour contract and issuance of Certificate of Confirmation of Visa Issuance.

Stop caning, Amnesty tells Malaysia

KATHMANDU: Malaysia, the third largest economy in Southeast Asia, is a hell for migrant workers, rights group Amnesty International (AI) said in its report on Friday. According to the report, thousands of migrant workers have received ‘inhuman and degrading’ punishment in recent years. Malaysian authorities caned at least 34,923 migrant workers between 2002 and 2008, 60 percent of them from neighbouring Indonesia. AI has urged the Malaysian government to abolish its customary cruel punishment — extra judicial custody, third degree treatment and inhuman behaviour in custody — adopted since 2002. Malaysia has 2.2 million migrant workers from Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Nepal, the Philippines and Thailand. — HNS