Chinese company refuses to send Nepalis home without compensation for lossesThirty-three out of the 44 women want to return to Nepal, but their company has demanded that the Nepali employment agency pay them upwards of $600 per woman.
A Chinese company that hired a group of Nepali women to work at its garment factory and then refused to pay them as per the contract is now demanding that it be paid compensation instead—to send the women home.
The women, who arrived in the northeastern city of Dandong in May, had reached out to the Nepali Embassy in Beijing, seeking assistance after finding out they had been duped.
Two weeks ago, following a directive from the Department of Foreign Employment, representatives from Compass Recruitment, the employment agency involved in sending the women to China, had travelled to Dandong to repatriate the women who were keen to return, and work out an arrangement for those who wanted to stay.
Thirty-three of the 44 women told Compass Recruitment that they wanted to return to Nepal.
But Dandong Larore, the Chinese company, said it will not allow any of the women to leave unless the Nepali agency compensates them for “losses incurred.”
According to the women who spoke with the Post, the company is demanding that Compass Recruitment pay upwards of $600 per woman, in order to cover the expenses it incurred in order to bring the women to China.
“Our Chinese boss told the manpower agency they can only take us home after they pay for his losses,” said Manisha, one of the women, who asked that the Post not reveal her last name.
But Sushil Lamsal, deputy chief of mission at the Nepali Embassy in Beijing, told the Post that the company cannot keep the women from leaving since it violated the agreement.
“The Chinese company’s argument is that it spent a lot of money processing the women’s paperwork to obtain required permits, so the Nepali agency has to bear those costs if the women are to be sent home,” Lamsal told the Post. “However, we’ve said from the very beginning that the company violated the contract so it has no right to stop the women from leaving.”
The women were promised a $400 monthly salary, eight-hour work days, one weekly day off, room and board, and medical insurance, but the company did not fulfill any of the points in the agreement.
Several women interviewed by the Post said they were paid only $50 for a month’s work. After they protested, they were paid an additional $100. More than half of the 44 women had stopped going to work, demanding they be sent home immediately.
“We were placed in the stitching section, even though the manpower agency specifically told us we’d be working in the packing section,” Pampa Chapagain of Morang told the Post in an earlier interview. “We were also made to work from 7am to 6:30pm which was against the agreement.”
Lamsal told the Post that his office had immediately notified the Department of Foreign Employment after the embassy received the call from the women, and asked officials to direct the employment agency to repatriate the women.
For the women, many of whom are in their early 20s and come from across Nepal, the uncertainty surrounding their return has been hard to deal with.
“We want to return home as soon as possible,” said Bhagawati Karki of Jhapa.“But it feels like we are stuck here.”
Since they arrived in Dandong, the women have been cooped up on the company’s property, where both the workshop and their dormitory is located.
“It feels like we’re in jail because we are not even allowed to leave the compound,” said Manisha.
But the embassy is hopeful that the two companies will reach an agreement soon.
“We have advised the two companies to share the costs and are positive that they will reach a deal soon,” said Lamsal.
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