Calls for ethical recruitment practices to protect workersEthical and fair recruitment is indispensable for migrant workers’ safety and dealing with various other issues that malign foreign employment sector, stakeholders have said.
Ethical and fair recruitment is indispensable for migrant workers’ safety and dealing with various other issues that malign foreign employment sector, stakeholders have said.
According to migration experts and government officials, absence of ethical recruitment process has made migrant workers vulnerable to human trafficking, forced labour and exploitation at different phases of seeking jobs abroad.
Addressing a programme organised on Monday to discuss promotion of responsible recruitment practices in the country, Minister for Labour, Employment and Social Security Gokarna Bista said, “Labour migration has taken the shape of culture and attitude for the present world. The rise in the number of Nepali workers migrating for jobs abroad has brought along various complications.
“Failing to manage labour migration has led to human trafficking, exploitation and violation of basic human rights of workers, which is a global problem,” added Minister Bista.
He reiterated government’s commitment to promoting fair and ethical recruitment and protecting workers’ rights from recruitment to the working phase by making management of the labour migration transparent.
Speaking on the occasion, US Ambassador to Nepal Randy W Berry said that it was responsibility of all stakeholders, including the Nepal government, to make the recruitment process of Nepali migrants ethical.
“Nearly 90 percent of them face some sorts of debt bondage. They borrow paying up to 35 percent of annual interest rate which is a waste of revenue. The money could be used on productive topics. Unfortunately, many Nepali workers also die abroad,” said Ambassador Berry. “We hope we can make ethical recruitment happen and promote well-being of migrant workers.”
Globally, 150 million people are working as migrant workers and are prone to some kinds of exploitation during recruitment phase or while working in a destination country.
“In some cases, these workers end up with a completely different job, with less salary and facilities than what they had been promised at the time of hiring,” said Carolyn Tanner, chief of Party—Hamro Samman Project of Winrock International, adding that such practices make workers vulnerable to human trafficking.
Tanner cited much of the risk of human trafficking and their exploitation happen during recruitment phase.
“Human trafficking can happen when a migrant worker is placed on a different job or his/her identity card or passport is seized by the employer, hindering their movement. It can happen to anyone. Human trafficking, unfortunately, has remained a harsh reality for Nepalese inside and outside the country,” added Tanner.
Exploitation of Nepali migrants, aspiring to work in the Gulf countries and Malaysia, has been a long-known phenomenon for the country.
While the continued outmigration of its citizens for foreign jobs has brought in remittances, the country has struggled to tackle various problems like death and exploitation of workers.
Representatives of the recruiting agencies, however, warned that government’s intervention into the sector in the pretext of promoting fair recruitment could shrink labour market for Nepali workers abroad.
“While focusing too much on labour exploitations, we are forgetting about the contribution of remittances to the national economy and how it has improved the lifestyle of millions of people back home,” said Rohan Gurung, president of Nepal Association of Foreign Employment Agencies—the umbrella organisation of the recruiting agencies in Nepal.
Gurung urged the government to introduce practical steps for managing the labour migration and not to discourage the private sector as long as there are no sufficient job opportunities in the country.
Responding to Gurung, Under-secretary at the Labour Ministry Deepak Dahal questioned the ongoing recruitment practice of charging hefty sums on workers for their services.
“Protecting workers from any forms of exploitation is our top priority. But that doesn’t mean the government wants to discourage other actors,” said Dahal.