Foreign job agents return to old stand against free visa

KATHMANDU: Foreign employment agents – who had shut down their agencies protesting a police crackdown on their alleged fraudulent activities – have now diverted their attention to use the opportunity in hand to push for amending the provision for free visa and tickets to migrant workers.

A team deputed from the Metropolitan Police Crime Division on February 24 had carried out raids at at least 18 manpower offices and arrested some proprietors. The companies shut down their offices since March 6 in protest, but now their context has changed.

The manpower agents had shut down their businesses arguing that police crossed their jurisdiction; but now they have disinterred an old dispute and demanded correcting decisions taken by the then State Minister for Labour and Employment, Tek Bahadur Gurung.

The agents now are demanding a correction of the decision taken on July 5 to provide cost-free visas and tickets to the aspiring migrant workers. In this way, the manpower agents have ended up in what seems to be a bargain or price haggling with the Ministry of Labour and Employment.

The manpower companies are now insisting that the provision allowing them to charge only Rs 10,000 on a migrant worker will not be 'profitable', when the employer companies have shied away from providing promotional expenditure.

They are pressing the Ministry to get at least a month's salary from the workers' earning through promotional expenditure.

House panel's support to foreign job agents?

The manpower companies are also making efforts to influence the International Relations and Labour Committee under the Legislature-Parliament to achieve their objectives.

The Committee meeting held today has seemingly sided with the manpower companies by calling fora revision on the provision of providing Rs 10,000 in promotional expenditure when sending a worker abroad.

Lawmakers including Chudamani Jangali expressed support for reviewing the provision.

On the occasion, Nepal Association of Foreign Employment Agencies (NAFEA) Chairman, Bimal Dhakal, called for raising the amount received from a migrant worker to Rs 20,000 if not a month's salary.

Meanwhile, some quarters of lawmakers vehemently opposed the proposal.

Lawmaker Binod Shrestha said that the government which had stipulated the minimal wage for a labourer at Rs 9,700 could not take a decision on drawing Rs 10,000 from each worker for the manpower companies.

Lawmaker Ashok Kumar Mandal questioned what would happen if migrant workers and youth that have been swindled in the country and abroad started protesting like the foreign employment companies.