Businesses Able to Bring Demand from European Countries, but Government Policy is an Obstacle.
Kathmandu – The foreign employment sector has come to a standstill due to the global impact of COVID-19. Due to the Corona epidemic, the government had decided to close the labor permit for foreign employment from March 12 last year.
Although the process of going abroad again with a labor permit has started, due to the corona epidemic that has spread in Nepal including the destination country, there is no immediate opportunity to go abroad with new labor permit. As demanded by the manpower entrepreneurs, the government has paved the way for them to go abroad with the new institutional labor permit, but the entrepreneurs are not in a position to bring demand papers from abroad as they did before.
ManojParajuli has talked with Babulal Magar (Narendra), a member of the working committee of the Nepal Foreign Employment Businessmen’s Association, about the problems of workers abroad due to the Corona epidemic, the current state of foreign employment, and the possibility of foreign employment after the Covid-19 epidemic.Babulal Magar (Narendra), who has 12 years of experience in the field of foreign employment, is a person who initially went back to foreign employment. Narendra ‘The Global Recruitment Pvt. Ltd.’ has been sending skilled workers to European countries, especially Cyprus and Romania. Ltd.’s operator. Here is the edited excerpt of the conversation with Narendra:
What is the impact of the Corona epidemic on foreign employment?
In the aftermath of the Corona epidemic, we (Businessmen’s Association) initially felt that many Nepalese were losing their jobs, but later on, when we came to know the reality, we and the business community realized that about 50 percent of those who lost their jobs abroad were illegally employed.
Like most of them: The workers working in the hospitality sector have lost more jobs.The remaining number of workers whose visas have expired are working illegally and whose contract period has expired is found to be more.
In the current situation, have the destination countries adopted vigilance for the safety of Nepali workers?
In particular, we have found that companies in the Gulf countries, Malaysia and Europe employ their workers in accordance with the government policy there. We have found that some companies are working even while maintaining social distance. However, there are complaints that some companies have not taken the necessary precautions including the prescribed safety measures. In such cases, we have been drawing the attention of the concerned employers for the immediate hearing of the complaints.
With the closure of employment due to the Corona effect, the workers have also complained of inconvenience in getting food and not getting a salary?
I have also heard that some companies have not complained that they have not been allowed to eat/stay, but when we contacted the employer company, we have received information that some of the companies there have paid 25 to 50 rupees. We have also found that some companies, especially those working for hotel and restaurant workers, have bought tickets and returned home after half a month’s leave and half the amount to be borne by the company. The union is taking the initiative to solve the problem, especially in the case of workers sent by businessmen, to the companies that have received complaints from Nepali workers.
You are also in the business association. What is the union doing for the benefit of the workers and the problems of the workers?
We are constantly working for the benefit of the workers and the business community. A vivid example of this is the recent letter we sent to the Ministry of Labor, Employment and Social Security, the Department of Foreign Employment, and the Government of Nepal. Accordingly, we had requested the Government of Nepal to rescue the Nepali workers from the Foreign Employment Welfare Fund free of cost as they could not return home due to the Corona effect. We have deposited 20 million rupees from the interest earned from the cash deposit of the businessman in the corona amount of the Government of Nepal. Also, for the benefit of the businessmen, the association had demanded immediate renewal from the Government of Nepal if the manpower companies could not reach the number of hundreds annually due to Corona and 18 months in Malaysia. We have succeeded in meeting the demands of the government.
Why have all the manpower businessmen united against the provision of 100 people annually?
In fact, we businessmen were united yesterday and are united today. The demand to remove the provision of 100 people annually is the demand of us businessmen. Manpower entrepreneurs have different streams and different beliefs, but we all have the same problem that we are taking initiative to solve.
Manpower entrepreneurs have been demanding to revise the service fee prescribed by the government, but even though the government has not addressed the demand, the entrepreneurs have been working in the past. Is it possible to do business?
In fact, our demand was the same yesterday and today. “If the worker does not get the first month’s salary and the company does not give the ticket, the worker should be able to buy the ticket.” You know it, and everyone knows it. Not all companies offer tickets. In the current situation, it is not possible to send workers with the service fee prescribed by the government, but in this case, the entrepreneurs were working before. Now is the time for the government to solve the problems of entrepreneurs.
Isn’t it true that the workers have been severely exploited when they do not follow the policy rules brought by the government?
We have always been in favor of government policy and rules. But when the government brings the policy rules, it should not only discuss with the concerned country but also with the companies that take the workers of that country, their official association/organization. Why can’t employers give tickets? Also, the government never wanted to understand that workers cannot be given tickets. Every company has its own problems. The company may not have issued a ticket without any guarantee that 100% of the workers we send will work for the company concerned. Most workers are unskilled. Those who can’t work there, some are homesick, some can’t stand the temperature of 45/50 degrees abroad but the company tries not to give tickets as they will return before the end of the contract period or within 2/3 months of going abroad.
Manpower entrepreneurs are dependent only on the Gulf and Malaysia. Apart from these, why have entrepreneurs not been able to bring demand letters from other labor destination countries? What are the problems?
If the ticket can be deducted by the worker and the cost incurred by the businessman can be borne by the worker with the service fee, then we are able to bring the demand of European countries besides Malaysia and the Gulf. Once you go to European countries for marketing, the official cost is at least 10 to 20/25 lakhs, but according to the rules of the Government of Nepal, workers cannot be sent to European countries at the prescribed fee. In most of the European countries, money is spent on work permits, stamping, bank guarantees, which makes it difficult to bring workers from those countries to Nepal, but it is not possible to send workers at the cost set by the government. Another thing is that the demand letter has to be verified by the embassy. All European countries except the Gulf do not have embassies. Embassies in other countries have been assigned to look after more than one country, which is not possible in practice, which is why the demand of another country has not been verified. Due to this, it is not possible to send Nepali workers to those countries despite the demand.
Corona’s influence remains in the labor destination country, what could be the current state of foreign employment?
As I have said before, Corona has had a major impact on the hospitality sector in the destination country. Companies in the construction and manufacturing industries are still in demand. However, due to COVID-19, the destination country of labor is affected and the demand for Nepal is expected to be less than before.
As long as the corona epidemic is not under control in Nepal and other labor destination countries, it will continue to affect the Nepali labor market. Generally, given the current situation, it is unlikely that foreign employment will return to normalcy due to the impact of Corona by next December.
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