Kathmandu, September 22

The government’s long-standing plan to sign a labour contract with Jordan is gathering momentum at last. The Ministry of Labour and Employment (MoLE) is finalising a draft of the memorandum of understanding (MoU) to be signed with the desert kingdom to supply Nepali workers.

Nepal has been planning to sign the pact with Jordan since the last three years due to growing demand for Nepali workers. However, the work in this regard received importance only after a visit of a delegation from Jordan last month.

“Our consultant — Chandeshwor Acharya — is revising the draft of the MoU,” said Govinda Mani Bhurtel, spokesperson for MoLE. Acharya is former labour attaché of Nepal to Saudi Arabia.

A committee comprising officials from the Ministry of Law, Justice, Constituent Assembly and Parliamentary Affairs, and Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) will review the draft prepared by Acharya and submit it to MoLE. Bhurtel said that as soon as they get the draft, they will send it to Jordan for feedback through MoFA, incorporate suggestions, if any, and submit it to the Cabinet for approval to sign the labour pact.

What makes Jordan special is that the country offers better salary compared to other Gulf countries, and its labour law does not discriminate against migrant workers, according to Bharat Subedi, director general of the Department of Foreign Employment (DoFE).Initially, Jordan had shown interest to sign a labour accord only for domestic workers. Later, Nepal had proposed to sign a general MoU for all types of workers, to which the country had agreed.

In the last fiscal year, Jordan hired 421 Nepali workers, of whom a majority (259) were females. Nepal has opened 110 countries for foreign employment to Nepalis. However, the bilateral pacts related to supply of workers have so far been signed only with countries like Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, South Korea, Israel and Japan. Nepal has entered into an agreement with South Korea to send workers under Employment Permit System and with Israel to send caregivers under government-to-government initiative.

Similarly, Japan hires industrial trainee workers. Going by the Foreign Employment Act, the government is required to sign labour agreement with all the labour receiving destinations to ensure the safety and rights of Nepali workers as set by the International Labour Organisation (ILO). Subedi said that the process is underway to sign pacts with countries like Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Lebanon.

“We are awaiting a call from Malaysia to sign the pact,” he added.Meanwhile, as per DoFE, Canada has shown interest to hire caregivers and seasonal agriculture workers, who can go to Canada to work for a short term of six months to one year.

Likewise, Brazil has written directly to the Nepal government asking if the latter can supply workers in the construction sector.

As of now, aspirants are going to Canada and Brazil through personal approach by acquiring ‘individual permit’ from DoFE. Canada hired 182 workers and Brazil had employed five workers in the last fiscal year.