Recruiting agency found sending workers even without valid demandMatter comes to the fore after an agency denied prospective workers a discount of Rs1,000.
On Friday afternoon, a group of distressed migrant workers reached the Department of Foreign Employment at Buddhanagar, Kathmandu.
Having been rendered helpless by the recruiting agency, which was supposed to land them a job in Bahrain, three workers were compelled to seek support from the department, the government body that oversees foreign employment.
The Basundhara-based Growth Process International Employment Pvt Ltd had charged each worker Rs 130,000 for their jobs—thirteen times the government approved rate.
As per the Nepal government’s rule, Rs 10,000 is the maximum amount a recruiting agency can charge for jobs in Qatar, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman, Brunei, Sweden and Malta.
The matter reached the department after these workers had asked for a discount of merely Rs 1,000, but the agency had denied it, according to Kushal Baral, a section officer with the department.
“The group of five workers had spent all their money in Kathmandu while paying for the hotels and the PCR test. They did not have money even to reach the airport,” Baral told the Post. “Helpless, the five had reached the department for help. One worker had already paid all the money while another had reached the agency to pay his share.”
Following their complaint, a team from the Department of Foreign Employment, led by Baral, raided the recruiting agency. While the team reached the agency because workers were charged hefty amounts to prepare for their jobs, the officials got surprised to find that the raided agency had not even fulfilled the process for sending workers.
The Growth Process International Employment Pvt Ltd had not secured demand to supply workers to the Bahraini company.
These applicants were being sent on the workers’ demand obtained by another recruiting agency—Access Partners Nepal Pvt Ltd—which is an unprecedented incident in the country’s foreign employment sector, according to Baral.
“These workers were doing their business with Growth Process International Employment Pvt Ltd, whereas the approval for sending workers was in the name of Access Partners Nepal Pvt Ltd,” said Baral. “Two recruiting agencies were found to be working in collusion for cheating workers. The workers were unaware how their labour permit was issued through Access Partners Nepal Pvt Ltd, which they had never heard of.”
The team had recovered Rs 262,000 from the raided recruiting agency and called both agencies to be present at the department.
With the resumption of labour migration, which had remained halted for many months due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Nepali workers have once again started leaving for overseas jobs. However, as they are desperate for jobs and are trying to go on foreign employment, their exploitation by sub-agents and recruiting agencies is comparable to the pre-pandemic time.
The Foreign Employment Department has recently intensified its monitoring drive for quelling the malpractices in the foreign employment sector. Most of the recent raids have exposed that workers are being sent on visit visa or they are asked to pay huge amounts of money for jobs which are supposed to be mostly free.
“That workers were not given a discount of even Rs 1,000 is painful. It shows the extent to which these workers are exploited by recruiting agencies,” said Baral, who has conducted 17 such raids in the last three months. “Their flight was fixed for later in the evening. But they had no money to go to the airport.”
Following the department’s intervention, four workers, who had already paid, not only got their money back but also could go on foreign employment without having to pay for anything. The other one also flew on Saturday morning without paying any fees.
“We have realised that workers are reaching out to the department when they feel cheated by agencies. This is happening because of the awareness among migrant workers,” said Baral.
“If agencies have got workers’ demand that says workers do not need to pay anything for free jobs, workers can fly free of cost. If such jobs require paying at least service charges to the agency, then workers can get to fly without having to pay a single penny above the government ceiling.”