HomeWorldAsiaNepal And Malaysia Call For Equitable Recruiting

Nepal And Malaysia Call For Equitable Recruiting

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A high-level Malaysian delegation led by Home Minister Saifuddin Nasution Ismail arrived in Kathmandu on Thursday to discuss a diverse range of bilateral issues, including migration.

On Friday, the delegation will meet with Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal and Labour Minister Dol Prasad Aryal.

Punya Bhandari, Aryal’s personal secretary, stated that the agendas would be released soon after the meeting.

Malaysia has announced plans to hire 500,000 foreign workers across a variety of industries.

Malaysia has been the top destination for Nepali workers since 2008, when the government began keeping track of labour migrants.

However, Nepal halted labour migration to Malaysia for 16 months pending an agreement on recruitment fees and labour market conditions, as outlined in an October 2018 memorandum of understanding signed by the two governments.

In September 2019, labour migration to the country resumed.

The number of Malaysia-bound workers has increased dramatically since the country resumed accepting migrant workers following the Covid-19 pandemic.

The 2018 memorandum of understanding between Nepal and Malaysia includes a provision that exempts workers from paying recruitment fees because the Malaysian employer is supposed to bear all recruiting expenses. However, migrant workers claim that this is only on paper.

Under the condition of anonymity, one of the workers told the Post that they had paid Rs300,000 each to agents of a recruiting agency in order to get a job in Malaysia.

The employee claimed that the employer paid them less than the amount specified in the contract, verbally and physically abused and assaulted them whenever they were unable to perform the work efficiently, and transferred them to an under-construction apartment when they spoke out against the injustices.

“While seven of us were held in the empty apartment for seven days, a dozen were held for 19 days before being sent to Nepal,” the worker claimed.

He stated that the monthly payment agreement was Rs72,600 (approximately 2,346 Malaysian Ringgit). “However, we did not receive the overtime bonus.”

According to Nepali migration observers, Nepal should raise concerns about fair recruitment and worker safety with the Malaysian delegation. Nineteen Nepali workers were rescued from Malaysia last month.

Malaysia has become the top labour destination for Nepalis, according to data from the Department of Foreign Employment, with 125,670 new labour permits issued in the first five months of the current fiscal year.

While Malaysia currently hires workers from 15 countries, it only hires Nepalese security guards.

Despite the fact that the government removed the provision that allowed recruiting agencies to hire sub-agents in March 2019, observers say that they continue to operate through indirect channels.

According to labour migration experts, the cost of recruitment has increased since the 2018 agreement.

“The demand for workers is generally sold to the highest manpower agent bidder, and given the number of agents and the level of competition in Nepal, the cost is now usually in excess of Rs300,000 per worker,” said Andy Hall, a Kathmandu-based migrant worker rights specialist who works in South and Southeast Asia.

“High recruitment costs and, more broadly, unethical recruitment are frequently caused by systemic corruption in Malaysia’s governance of foreign workers and corruption of Malaysian employers,” Hall continued.

According to Rameshwar Nepal, executive director of Equidem Research Nepal, a human rights and labour rights research organisation, “migrant workers’ safety, contract breach, delay or non-payment, and documentation-related issues must be addressed.”

Malaysia had the highest number of Nepali migrant worker deaths from fiscal year 2019-20 to fiscal year 2021-22, after Saudi Arabia.

In the last three years, 870 workers died in Saudi Arabia, 817 in Malaysia, 595 in Qatar, and 496 in the United Arab Emirates, according to the Nepal Labour Migration Report-2022.

The actual figure could be higher because many migrant deaths go unreported. Suicide rates among Nepali workers were highest in Malaysia during this time period, with 80 Nepalis dying by suicide.

According to Nepal, one of the reasons for high suicide rates among Nepalis in Malaysia could be high debt bondage due to exorbitant recruitment fees, deception, and contract breach.

“Because Nepali migrant workers must pay comparatively higher recruitment fees to secure jobs in Malaysia, they are more likely to fall into debt bondage,” Nepal explained.

Info source – Kathmandupost

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