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Zero-cost migration

Sunday, June 28th, 2015
zero cost

Photo: Gopen Rai

Nepal is preparing to stop sending migrant workers to work in countries where employers do not pay for their air tickets and visas from 6 July.

The host countries have agreed, but ironically it is Nepal’s recruiting agencies who are opposed to the facility which at present costs migrant workers from poor families most of their savings.

The Ministry of Labour and Employment recently asked Nepal’s embassies in Malaysia and six Gulf countries (Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, UAE, Bahrain and Oman) to stop attesting applications submitted by employment companies demanding Nepali migrant workers unless they were willing to pay their ticket and visa fees.

Nepali recruiting agencies are up in arms against the zero-cost migration policy. They say it is not practical and other countries like Bangladesh might grab job opportunities in Malaysia and the Gulf if Nepal sticks to its zero-cost policy.

However, Labour Minister Tek Bahadur Gurung says the government will implement the new process despite stiff resistance by manpower companies.

“We are not backing out,” Gurung told Nepali Times. “Nepali migrant workers will not have to pay for their air tickets and visas from 6 July. We will be taking actions against those manpower agencies that charge a huge sum from migrant workers.”

Gurung says well-established employment companies are already paying for migrant workers’ airfare and visa fee. “They do not have any problems with our policy,” he says, adding that it is only small and not-so-established companies that make Nepali migrant workers pay for everything and often do not deliver on promised salaries.

“Nepali workers hired by these companies are often exploited,” he says. “Our decision will affect just these companies. We may lose up to 20-30 per cent of foreign employment opportunities with this new policy, but not those that are decent and well-paid.”

As of now, it is legal for manpower companies to charge Rs 80,000 from Malaysia-bound migrants and Rs 70,000 from the Gulf-bound migrants. But most migrant workers charge higher, up to Rs 120,000, by adding various other costs.

Om Astha Rai

Also Read:

Zero cost migration, really?

Belabouring the obvious

Blood, sweat and tears



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One Response to “Zero-cost migration”

  1. Caught in the middle by middlemen – Migration & Labor on Says:

    […] Given the information asymmetry between an employer in Malaysia or the Gulf and an aspiring migrant, there are many stories of contract substitution upon arrival at the destination with less favourable terms of employment and rent-seeking by agents. […]

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