Recruiting agencies ‘defying’ Nafea by obtaining permitsOverseas employment recruiting agencies have been be-fooling the government by secretly obtaining work permits from the Department of Foreign Employment even as their umbrella organisation continues to drive a hard bargain with the line ministry.
Overseas employment recruiting agencies have been be-fooling the government by secretly obtaining work permits from the Department of Foreign Employment even as their umbrella organisation continues to drive a hard bargain with the line ministry.
The Nepal Association of Foreign Employment Agencies (Nafea) claim that all its member agencies have stopped sending workers since its indefinite general strike came into force on March 5. But sources at the DoFE say they have acquired 2,804 work permits since the day Nafea went into strike on March.
That makes out 934 permits on average a day—almost on par with the normal workdays.
“Everyone is secretly collecting work permits and processing new job demands. Interestingly, Nafea leaders are talking about the impact their general strike is having on the economy and youths,” said a DoFE official, requesting anonymity. Even Nafea office bearers have been facilitating their workers by smuggling files to officials, greasing their palms, the official revealed.
Nafea had issued a statement last week, asking the member agencies to completely stop the foreign employment related services. “Nafea would take strong action against the agencies if any of their staff or agents are to be seen at the labour village,” said a statement issued by Nafea General Secretary Rohan Gurung. This has led the member agencies to carry out their work through the back door channel.
DoFE officials have noted a marginal decline in service seekers going through individual channel due to the Nafea strike. More than 30 percent migrants go abroad using their individual contacts instead of taking help of recruiting agencies.
Nafea representatives have threatened that they would not resume work until the government meets their demands, including revision in the service charge, end to police raid on their offices.
Some agencies may have taken final approval, fearing expiry of work visas, but the strike is very much on, insist Nafea officials.
The recruiting agencies have been using various pressure tactics to suspend the free-visa-free-ticket system that the government enforced last year.
A weak implementation notwithstanding, the new scheme has been successful in controlling the middlemen culture and end exploitation of workers to some extent.
Nepali workers going to Malaysia, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, Oman and Kuwait for employment will have to pay only for health check-up, pre-departure orientation and migrant workers’ welfare fund. They may have to pay an additional Rs10,000 as service charge to the recruiting agency if the employer is not paying them the commission.
Earlier, the recruiting agencies used to charge a minimum of Rs 70,000 each from workers going to the Gulf countries and Rs80,000 from those leaving for Malaysia.
“Many of the recruiting agencies were charging higher fees as it was impossible to send the workers with the service charge fixed by the government. But the recent raids by Nepal police have made it hard,” said a Nafea official, claiming that a hike in service charge would control anomalies prevalent in the foreign employment sector.