Nepal explores labour market in Europe for Nepali immigrant workersThe Labour Ministry is holding consultations with the Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs and Ministry of Foreign Affairs to draft a labour agreement with Turkey.
Chandan Kumar Mandal
As part of its plan to expand labour destination countries for Nepali workers to European countries, the government has intensified efforts to discuss the prospects of sending Nepali migrant workers to Turkey.
For that, the Ministry of Labour, Employment and Social Security has already started internal discussions on the draft of the labour agreement that it will be sharing with Turkey.
“We have started internal dialogue on the format and contents of the draft labour agreement. This will be a general agreement between both countries, which will basically talk about the overall rights and facilities to be given to our workers,” said Umesh Dhungana, joint-secretary with the Labour Ministry.
The Labour Ministry is simultaneously holding consultations with the Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs and Ministry of Foreign Affairs to draft the labour pact.
The news comes two weeks after the Labour ministry said that it was planning to reach out to various European countries in its attempts to secure new and lucrative job destinations for its labour force.
The Nepal government is trying to strike a formal labour deal with countries like Germany, Portugal, Poland, and Turkey as new labour destination countries. Among these potential new markets for Nepali migrant workers, Turkey is the first country the Nepal government is approaching.
The first round of negotiations officially began last month when Labour Minister Gokarna Bista and other senior ministry officials met with some of the European countries’ leaders on the sidelines of the 100th anniversary celebration of the International Labour Organization in Geneva.
“The government has started discussing labour migration possibilities with the countries that have come forward and expressed their interest in Nepali workers during the ILO event,” Dhungana told the Post. “Labour deal with new countries are part of the government's plan of adding new countries for our workers and then diversifying these labour destination countries.”
Like recent labour deals with Malaysia, Mauritius, Japan, the United Arab of Emirates, the upcoming pact with Turkey, once signed between both countries, will also ensure ‘zero cost jobs’ for Nepali workers, 24-hour medical and workplace insurance, among other facilities.
Nepali workers have been going to work in Turkey on their own. However, recruiting agencies started outsourcing Nepali citizens for Turkish employers for the last three years, according to Rohan Gurung, president of the Nepal Association of Foreign Employment Agencies (NAFEA), the umbrella organisation of recruiting agencies supplying workers for foreign employers.
These workers are working as caregiver and construction workers. In fiscal year 2017-18, a total of 1,845 work permits—1,354 for men and 491 for female—were issued to Nepali workers aspiring to work in Turkey. Last year, the number plummeted to 1,632.
“The formal labour pact will mean that the rights of Nepali workers going to work in Turkey will be better protected. But the government has to do a lot more to materialise such a plan. Otherwise, the plan of securing zero cost jobs for workers will remain largely on paper,” Gurung said.
According to Gurung, the demand for Nepali workers in Turkey has seen a drop since last year after the government introduced a new policy that required all employers to get their workers’ demands verified by Nepali foreign missions based in those countries.
“Nepal doesn’t have its embassy in Turkey which makes it difficult for verification of workers demand letters. The employers have to get it verified from the Nepal Embassy in Pakistan, which takes a minimum of three to four months,” said Gurung.
The government should at least appoint a labour attaché in Turkey to oversee the demand letter approval or give adequate resources to the embassy in Pakistan so that its staff can visit Turkey on a regular basis for workers’ demand verification process, urged Gurung.
“If Turkey is a lucrative job destination for our workers then the government should simultaneously take care of other affairs as well for effective implementation of such deals,” Gurung said.