In case the employers do not pay the workers or meet the conditions specified in the contract letter, the responsibility falls on the manpower agencies
The number of youths working as migrant workers dropped in the last fiscal year in comparison with the year before. This is something to be very concerned about as the remittance sent by the migrant workers is also on the decline. Remittance is the mainstay these days of the Nepali economy.
There was a fall of 18.36 per cent in the number of workers migrating from Nepal in the fiscal year 2015-16. One of the reasons for this is attributed to the youths remaining home after the devastating earthquakes of last year.
They have decided to remain at home to carry out the reconstruction of their damaged homes. They opted to do so in the quake hit districts in particular as a result of which the number of foreign job aspirants decreased.
Unfortunately, it is a reality for the country to rely on remittance at present as there is no other option for youths but to migrate in search of greener pastures as they do not find suitable employment at home.
Nepali migrants to countries like Saudi Arabia have also been affected due to the steep decline in the international price of oil.
These days Saudi Arabia is the most popular destination for these migrants as Malaysia had put a ban on foreign workers from February to May this year. An estimated 700,000 Nepali migrant workers are working as labourers in Saudi Arabia.
These days many of these workers are filing complaints after their employers have failed to pay. Apparently, some of them have not been paid since their recruitment. They have asked the Department of Foreign Employment (DoFE) to enable them to return home.
Those filing complaints are mostly Nepali workers who have recently migrated to Saudi Arabia. They are advised to seek the facts from their employers before filing complaints. It takes foreign workers at least three months to make a social security card which is required to open the bank accounts.
These banks are opened by the employers to deposit the salaries.
The government must make the manpower agencies more responsible, and they are advised to bring demands only from reputed companies. In case the employers do not pay the workers or meet the conditions specified in the contract letter, the responsibility falls on the manpower agencies.
They then have to bring the migrants back home and also to pay the salary due to them. The DoFE has the authority to suspend the license of any erring manpower agency if they are found flouting the rules.
Manpower agencies which do not deposit the required guarantee amount as provisioned to compensate the workers are suspended. Looking forward, it is likely that young Nepalis will continue to migrate even with the chances of being ill-treated and abused.
The DoFE therefore has the task of working for their well-being and their safety.
There is however a ray of hope that things will improve for better as Saudi King Abdulaziz has instructed the line ministries and law enforcing agencies to withhold payments to contractors who do not pay remuneration to the migrant workers on time and do not provide safe accommodation to them.
The Saudi king took this strict measure after many complaints were lodged with the Saudi government over non-payment of salary by employers.
A version of this article appears in print on August 09, 2016 of The Himalayan Times.