Israel coy, but may thaw

KATHMANDU: Israel has put conditions for reopening its labour market to Nepali blue-collar jobseekers. When Minister for Labour and Transport Management Mohammed Aftab Alam met

Israeli Deputy Prime Minister

and Minister of Interior Eliyahu Yishai on Monday, the two urged him to make Nepali outsourcing agencies responsible.

Israel banned Nepali workers on April 24 after finding over 1,000 Nepali workers with illegal status. Around 12,000 Nepalis are working in Israel, a lucrative destination for Nepali women migrant workers. Of these, 10,000 are women. Nepali women

are mainly working as caregivers for elderly and sick citizens.

The average monthly income

of care-givers in Israel is $650.

Minister Alam and Deputy Prime Minister Yishai discussed possible ways out for existing visa problems and Yishai finally agreed to consider it after the establishment of a strict monitoring mechanism by the Nepal government. “Malpractices in the recruitment process must be abolished,” Yishai said in the meeting.

A study commissioned by the Interior Ministry of Israel had found that foreign employment agencies are responsible for leqading to the illegal status of migrant workers. “Becoming illegal workers is not the fault of Nepali migrant workers,” Yaakov Ganot, head of the Interior Ministry’s Population Administration had said on May 2. Rather, they are victimised by groups who bring them to Israel in exchange for $8,000 to $12,000 per head to work in sectors where they have no experience, he had added.

Responding to Israel’s query, Nepal’s Department of Foreign Employment (DoFE) and outsourcing agencies had reduced the service fee to $3,400 and agreed this May to take responsibility for the workers in Israel. But, Israel has not opened the labour market as it is seeking a more high-level commitment.

Israel has also asked the Nepal government to make a roster of outsourcing agencies and de-list those who cheat people. Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Yishai assured the Nepali delegation that the Interior Ministry will send a draft soon to regulate Nepali migrant labours bound for Israel.

The Nepali delegation headed by Minister Alam is in Israel since a week to resolve the long ban on Nepali blue-collar jobseekers.