Nepal | July 16, 2020

EDITORIAL: Insecure foreign job

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The govt must take legal action against the manpower agency that duped the Nepali women who suffered in the foreign land

The statements given to this daily by the three Nepali women who returned home from China along with their fellows the other day clearly prove that the Nepali manpower agency had duped them by promising high monthly salaries. Forty-four Nepali women, who were duped and despatched to China’s Dandong Rishang garment factory bordering North Korea, were sent by Compass Recruitment, a foreign recruitment agency based at Gaushala, in May. They returned to Kathmandu on three different flights operated by Chinese airlines. The three women who talked to this daily said the agency had promised them a salary of $400 per month, and the demand letter attested by the Nepali Embassy in Beijing also mentioned the same amount. However, the employer gave them only $50 for the first month. After the women protested, the employer gave them an additional $100. The employer had promised to provide $250 only after three months of training. Another woman from Ramechhap said she was promised a monthly salary of $500. Upon learning that the Nepali women had been duped by the recruitment agency in Nepal, the Chinese employers had summoned the agency. But they vanished from the scene.

The victims said the Chinese employers were shocked to learn that the Nepali agency had collected Rs 70,000 from each of them. It has been revealed that the Chinese garment company had paid for the ticket, visa fee and training to the agency. The women later came to learn that the company was looking for only skilled labourers in sewing and had also paid a certain amount to the Nepali agency to train prospective candidates before sending them to China. However, the agency lied to the women that they were being sent for “packaging”. They were given sewing-training certificates without imparting any training in sewing. This was how the women were duped by the Nepali agency.

In this case, the manpower agency seems to be on the wrong side of the law. It should reimburse the women’s investment and provide compensation. The government should also take legal action against the agency that swindled the women, who had to suffer in the foreign land for months without basic amenities. This is not an isolated case, either. Many Nepal-based manpower agencies dupe migrant workers, promising handsome salaries in foreign countries, where they are forced to take up different jobs, not mentioned in the contract papers. On the other hand, the aspirant workers themselves and their families must be aware of the nature of the work, credibility of the manpower agency and labour laws of the country where they are supposed to work. Since remittance has been helping keep our economy afloat, the government must be serious about making the foreign jobs more secure and dignified. Meanwhile, the government should not delay in issuing work permits to Malaysia, where thousands of Nepalis are employed. The government should take the manpower agencies’ threat of an agitation seriously as it will badly affect our economy and jobs. The government stopped issuing work permits to Malaysia in May last year after it cracked down on Immigration Clearance and One Stop Centre for levying additional charges on Nepali migrants. Despite all odds, people’s right to work must be ensured.

Pinching the pocket

Vegetables have become so dear in Kathmandu that they are starting to pinch your pocket. They today cost double or even more of what they used to last year, and no one has a clue, least of them the government, of what can bring their prices down. Quite a few reasons have been given for the poor supply of vegetables and fruits to the capital this time of the year. They range from the late arrival of the monsoon that prevented the farmers from planting vegetables on time and their destruction in the recent floods to poor supply from India following the quarantine tests. However, these excuses provide little solace to the consumers who are affected.

True, the supply has slackened, but it is also a fact that traders are taking advantage of the shortage. Thus an effective monitoring mechanism and consumer forum would have helped bring down prices to some extent and provide some relief to the people. To stave off such shortage in the future, pocket areas in and around Kathmandu must be identified to grow enough vegetables and some crops so that it is not at the mercy of other districts for their supply.

A version of this article appears in print on July 30, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.

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