Recruitment agencies fight among themselves over Japan employmentThe latest dispute erupted after a group of agencies formed a separate organisation to work over various issues of employment in Japan.
At a time when not a single Nepali has been able to migrate to work in Japan under the agreement both countries signed last year, a new dispute has come to the fore.
The latest row is among recruiting agencies with the establishment of the Japan Employment Coordination Council (JECC) by a group of them.
The move has irked the Nepal Association of Foreign Employment Agencies (NAFEA)—the umbrella organisation of agencies recruiting Nepali migrant workers for various countries—even as the government is unaware of the development.
In a statement on Wednesday, NAFEA questioned the formation of the Council and also accused the recruiting agencies forming it and the government of setting up a syndicate for Japan employment.
“All organisations working in the foreign employment sector have to register with the Department of Foreign Employment. But the JECC has been registered as a non-governmental organisation while its goals and activities appear suspicious, leading to a syndicate on employment in Japan,” Sujit Kumar Shrestha, the NAFEA general secretary, told the Post.
“Our suspicion comes true because while the department has not issued new licences to agencies which wish to send workers under the Japan International Trainee and Skilled Worker Cooperation Organisation (JITCO), the new organisation has been formed.”
According to Shrestha, the association had been requesting the Department of Foreign Employment to register interested and qualified agencies to work under the JITCO. Currently, there are 206 organisations accredited for sending Nepali workers to Japan under the Technical Intern Training Programme.
“All these developments indicate that there is a new syndicate in the making with the government’s backing,” said Shrestha.
The agreement between Nepal and Japan—‘Memorandum of Cooperation (MoC) on sending Nepali workers with the status of residence of Specified Skilled Workers (SSW) to Japan’—had ruled out the role of private recruiting agencies in hiring and supplying workers to Japan.
The Labour Ministry, on several occasions, has reiterated that a dedicated Japan unit will be established at the Department of Foreign Employment to oversee workers’ selection and departures. Since there are no roles specified for recruiting agencies, no one from outside will be able to process the recruitment of aspiring migrants.
“We are not formally informed about any such organisation being formed. If this is the group of recruiting agencies engaged in JITCO, then they can come together and form such a forum,” said Bhola Nath Guragain, spokesperson for the Foreign Employment Department.
“But if they are trying to work as per the pact signed between Nepal and Japan, there is no such role of agencies or their coordination from outside for labour migration to Japan.”
The faction of recruiting agencies forming the JECC, however, said they were neither trying to create a syndicate nor an organisation parallel to NAFEA.
Madan Mahat, president of the newly formed JECC, said it was just a common forum of recruiting agencies working in the Japan employment sector.
“This is a social organisation of JITCO representative agencies for promotion and provides required coordination among the stakeholders for tapping opportunities in Japan. But we want to talk about the broader issues of employment opportunities in Japan,” said Mahat.
“Even after signing the new deal, Nepali workers have not reached Japan. We have not been able to send our workers and they are deprived of opportunities. The JECC will work for lobbying, promotion and coordination on various issues for ensuring opportunities in Japan.”
The Nepal government has been drafting guidelines for implementing the deal signed in March 2019. Nepal is among nine countries from where Japan plans to hire an estimated 345,150 workers in 14 sectors over five years. However, not a single Nepali has reached Japan under the new pact while recruiting agencies have been claiming a stake in sending workers to the rich nation.
“We have also been critical of the government when it wants to send workers. What is the need for recruiting agencies then?” said Shrestha.
“But there was no need for a parallel agency while these agencies are already registered under the NAFEA. What if all the agencies start forming similar country-specific organisations from tomorrow?”