Despite cost-free jobs deal with Malaysia, Nepali migrant workers are still paying hefty feesDesperate to get jobs, aspirant workers say they are not in a position to complain against recruiting agencies.
Two years ago, a migrant worker from Tanahun returned to Nepal after completing his job tenure in Malaysia.
He had returned home with some sketchy plans of doing something in the country so that he did not have to go on foreign employment again. But the plan did not work.
After failing to collect enough money to start his own business, he started to look for overseas jobs again. He scrambled for job vacancies in newspapers before coming across a suitable one for him—a security guard job, yet again in Malaysia.
He had thought that this time the job hunting would be easier. His hope relied on a landmark labour deal that Nepal and Malaysia had signed last year in October. The labour pact had ensured Nepali workers would get free jobs in Malaysia.
His and his fellow friends’ hopes of zero cost jobs in Malaysia were but shattered.
The recruiting agency asked Rs120,00 each from him and his three friends.
“But I did not have cash,” said the migrant worker who the Post is identifying as R. as he is afraid his name could destroy his prospects of flying to Malaysia. He has taken a loan at an annual interest rate of 24 percent, he said.
“I had hoped things had completely improved for Malaysia labour migration,” R., now 32, told the Post. “But in reality, nothing has changed. Workers are still compelled to pay hefty amounts of money for jobs in Malaysia.”
Following the government crackdown on agencies that charged exorbitant fees on Malaysia-bound workers, departure to South East Asian country remained blocked for months. When both countries ended the deadlock after months of negotiations, they agreed to sign an understanding, which says employers will pay all the fees and costs on behalf of the workers.
R. and his friends closely followed the developments and waited for the labour deal to be signed so that they get free of cost jobs.
“We kept ourselves updated with all the news. We waited that we would not have to pay any money,” said R. “Now, I have two options either pay for the job or drop the plan of going to Malaysia.”
For years, recruiting agencies have been imposing a hefty amount on aspiring migrant workers under various topics, including service charges. The government’s policy of Free Visa and Free Ticket, which barred recruiting agencies from taking more than Rs10,000 from job seekers, has remained poorly implemented.
Workers applying for jobs in destination countries—Arab-Gulf and Malaysia—are still paying higher fees than the government ceiling, a fact also admitted by government agencies.
“We are not in a situation to say that Malaysia-bound workers are not paying huge amounts although it’s a free job,” said Bhisma Kumar Bhusal, director general at Department of Foreign Employment.
The problem faced by the department is that even the victims do not reach out to the concerned agencies with their complaints.
“They write on social media that they have to pay a huge amount for Malaysian jobs, but no one comes to report,” said Bhusal.
On Sunday, a random group of workers who had received work-permit for Malaysia were asked by the department whether they had to pay for their jobs. No one admitted to paying for jobs even though the officials had ensured them that their flights would not be cancelled and that they would not have to pay anything.
“Even if a single person complains, we can initiate action; conduct raids and investigation. But this has not happened,” said Bhusal. “The department is changing its tactics to keep a check on such scams.”
Left with no other option, R. and his three friends are now bargaining with the recruiting agency.
They hope the agency would only charge Rs100,000. They are not pleased with the higher fees charged by the recruiting agency, but they do not want to complain. They also refused to name the recruiting agency, fearing job loss. They desperately need the job which would fetch them Malaysian Ringgit 1,900 per month.
“We have already invested over Rs15,000 for pre-departure services. They say if we want to go for free, then the government should send us to Malaysia,” said R. “But all of us need this job at any cost. We can not do anything.”