Abuse of interns on the rise in Nepal, report saysThe report by GEFONT said the number of trainee and apprentice workers increased by 20 percent in a year.
The hiring of individuals as trainee and apprentice workers has increased steeply in establishments across Nepal, emerging as a new form of labour exploitation, according to a report.
The report by the General Federation of Nepalese Trade Unions (GEFONT) made public on Sunday, said that the number of trainee and apprentice workers increased by 20 percent in a year, until mid-April, 2023.
“Along with the rise in hiring interns, the new form of labour exploitation has increased.”
GEFONT, a labour union affiliated with the CPN-UML, said the report was drafted after a labour survey in as many as 145 big and small industrial and service sector establishments across the country.
Binod Shrestha, president of GEFONT, said that in past years, enterprises used to hire people and they subsequently used to be permanent. “But, the trend has stopped nowadays.”
“While the number of regular employees has decreased, the number of trainees and apprentices has gone up,” Shrestha added. “This shows employers have started spending less on salaries and other benefits for workers, which is worrisome.”
While directly hired employees are eligible to get all the benefits according to the Labour Act, 2017, interns are deprived of such facilities, according to Shrestha.
The labour rights of every worker in all kinds of establishments, including a workplace with only a single employee should be ensured.
Shrestha said that many establishments have been hiring workers either through outsourcing companies or as interns in recent years to cut the companies' financial liabilities.
“While outsourced employees are at least paid their salaries, most of those interns are not only made to work unpaid but even charged for the work in the name of providing experience and certificates needed to work abroad,” Shrestha said.
“Such cases are rampant in big hotels, schools and banks among other sectors,” Shrestha added.
Chapter 4 of the Labour Act, 2017 which includes Sections 16 to 18 mentions the provisions related to trainees and apprentices.
Section 16 states that any enterprise may, by making an agreement with any educational institute, employ any person as an apprentice in accordance with the approved curriculum of such an institute, the apprentice referred shall not be deemed to be a labour for the purpose of this Act.
However, according to Section 18, an employer may employ any person as a trainee providing on-the-job training for at most a year by providing at least the minimum remuneration and other social security benefits including sick leave, gratuity, provident fund and insurance.
GEFONT has decided to launch a campaign demanding an end to any kind of unpaid work in the coming days.
“It is the international norm to pay workers at least a minimum salary and we demand it to be applied to the trainees in Nepal as well.”
While the minimum pay for workers determined by the government is Rs15,000, the minimum basic pay is Rs9,385.