Foreign employment fairs in S Arabia

KATHMANDU: Foreign Employment Promotion Board (FEPB) is planning to organize

Foreign Employment Fairs in two cities of Saudi

Arabia in November. The labour fairs will be held in Riyadh and Dammam, said FEPB undersecretary Mukunda Adhikari.

Adhikari said the board has written a letter to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) and Nepali diplomatic mission in Saudi Arabia to fix the dates and venues. “FEPB has proposed to set the dates between November 10 and November 18,” he said. The fairs will a one-day event in each destination, he added.

Saudi Arabia is a major destination for Nepali migrant workers in the Gulf. It hired around 52,416 Nepali blue-collar jobseekers in the fiscal year 2008-09. Around 3,00,000 Nepalis are believed to working in Saudi Arabia at present.

Outsourcing companies in Nepal and Saudi Arabia, FEPB, the Department of Foreign Employment (DoFE) and high-level government officials of both countries will take part in the fair. “Our objective is to expand the Nepali labour market,” said Adhikari. Apart from this, FEPB will seek a guarantee of the safety of Nepali workers, mainly women migrant workers.

Nepal government has banned Nepali women from to going Gulf countries — Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) — as they usually became victims of domestic violence and sexual harassment in the past. “We seek a guarantee of their safety from the Saudi government and outsourcing agencies there,” he said.

The fair will also pressurise destination countries to revise remuneration, he added. Nepali blue-collar jobseekers are least paid compared to their counterpart from India, Bangladesh and Pakistan.

Saudi Arabia has a large demand for housemaids and they are eying Nepali women to fulfill the requirement. Earlier, in March, the Saudi government had requested the then Minister for Labour and Transport Management (MoLTM) to send 1,00,000 housemaids but MoLTM first sought a guarantee of their safety. “Without a guarantee from the Saudi government, we cannot send Nepali women there,” said Adhikari.

Nepal is also planning to pressurise the Saudi government to adopt International Labour Organization (ILO) guidelines to secure the rights of migrant workers. Saudi Arabia has not adopted ILO rules and regulations related to foreign workers and their laws are based on Islamic fundamentalism.

Last year, Nepali outsourcing agencies organized such a fair in Qatar. These fairs should help to make a congenial environment for Nepali labourers oppressed by the global economic crisis.