Nafea ‘to press govt’ for recruitment fee revisionFree-visa-free-ticket is a low cost recruitment scheme introduced to end exploitation of prospective migrants
The Nepal Association of Foreign Employment Agencies (Nafea) looks set to press the government for a major revision on recruitment charge as representatives from both sides start negotiation on Sunday to resolve the free-visa-free-ticket row.
The free-visa-free-ticket is a low cost recruitment scheme introduced last year in order to end exploitation of prospective migrant workers.
The scheme allows the recruiting agencies to collect up to Rs10,000 in service charge from the worker going to six countries in the Gulf and Malaysia in conditions where the employer is not paying. Despite being hailed as a worker-friendly provision by migrant workers, rights groups and labour unions at the time, the recruiting agencies have been opposing it strongly.
Nafea representatives have insisted that they should be allowed to charge an amount equivalent to a month’s salary in service fee from their clients before they accept the low recruitment scheme.
“We are ready to send workers without service charge if the government stops charging people going to Israel and South Korea under the government to government channel. Is it ready to do it?” asked Bal Bahadur Tamang, former Nafea chairman. Migrant workers going to South Korea and Israel pay around Rs80,000 for air ticket and other employment-related expenses.
The government should revise the service charge as per the international practices, Tamang argues, also calling for a scientific method to increase in service charge for ease of paying tax.
Nafea has been protesting against the free-visa-free-ticket provision ever since it was enforced in July last year. The umbrella organisation of the recruiting agencies have disrupted the foreign employment related services twice, demanding the scrapping of the rule. Nefea representatives claim that the low cost recruitment scheme would lead to decline in job demands as employers in work destinations would take in workers from other countries.
However, a recent study suggests that there has not been any notable decline in job demands from countries like Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. In fact, Nepal has been meeting barely half the job demands from these countries even after the new rule came into effect.
Nafea had partially withdrawn the indefinite strike on Thursday after the government called for talks. Officials told the Post that the protest was withdrawn after the Ministry of Labour and Employment assured them of revision on the service charge.
“It’s most likely that a joint team will be set up to revise the charge as recruiting agencies are using all possible pressure tactics to jack up the service charge,” said a ministry official. Various organisation and rights groups have been pressing the government to properly enforce the provision without falling into recruiting agencies’ trap.