Labour accords

Thousands of Nepali labourers fly overseas each year after paying phenomenal sums to the recruiting agencies but several of them end up being swindled by both the agencies as well as the so-called employers. Nonetheless the lure of overseas employment has been too tempting to be set aside. The bleak work opportunities coupled with security concerns in the countryside have further contributed to the movement of the outbound Nepali workers, most of whom are at best semi-skilled. And like the Gulf countries, Hong Kong too has been a prime destination for Nepali migrant workers since a long time. Some 40,000-odd Nepalis are believed to be working or living in this port city at present. Sizeable as the numerical strength is, lack of awareness regarding the working environment and legal system, however, pose a serious problem for them, as a result of which, they have been caught off guard time and again. Fake documents, breach of the contract between the employer and employees, lower pay scale, in addition to being forced to perform extra work have been a common problem facing a majority of Nepali workers in foreign lands including, of course, Hong Kong.

Whereas the Mideast has been identified by the government as not so conducive for single Nepali women to work, Hong Kong has been a promising destination for them. But the lack of proper knowledge about the work policy of this port city and proper support from the government at home has left many a worker in the lurch. While unreliable recruitment channels continue to remain the single most notorious swindler for the outbound job-seekers, suspect work skills have handicapped the Nepali workers. This makes it imperative for the government to focus on producing trained and skilled manpower destined for overseas employment. This means a better pay scale for them, in addition to perks and other benefits. That the country relies to such a great extent on remittance renders the need for outlining a clear policy to produce skilled manpower more than just necessary. The Centre for Technical and Vocational Training, which offers training to workers in this category must induct relevant courses according to the labour market realities of the day. Bilateral employment pacts with nations with a high density of Nepali workers will have to be signed. Contract negotiations with overseas employers should also ensure that Nepalis get paid as much as an Indian or a Sri Lankan for similar jobs. Entering into labour accords with foreign countries in order that the Nepali workers are spared the anxiety in the absence of such arrangements will be in order. Receiving remittance without aiding those who send them would be rank injustice.