KATHMANDU (ILO News) – When Jumrati Miya Mansuri travelled to Malaysia, he paid a middleman who promised him work in the garment sector. But he ended up working in road maintenance, in appalling conditions.
“It was a tough job that was labour intensive. I was not paid what I was promised, nor did I get enough food to eat,” he says.
He eventually returned to Nepal, determined he would never migrate again. But he is now set to leave once more, this time after going through a fair recruitment process. Mansuri will be joining a group of workers who will be employed at a garment factory in Jordan.
Last time around, Mansuri did not undergo any medical examination, was not interviewed and was not given any form of orientation prior to departure. This time, as part of the ILO’s Integrated Programme on Fair Recruitment (FAIR) project , he attended a pre-departure orientation, a vital step in the recruitment process.
He learned about the recently signed Nepal-Jordan agreement that states that employers must pay for costs related to the recruitment of Nepali workers, and provides for standard employment contracts as well as life and disability insurance.
In the initial phase of the FAIR project, local communities and potential migrants – like returnee migrant worker Goma Nepali – found it difficult to believe that their recruitment would not involve any hidden costs.
Previously Nepali had paid what is known as a sub-agent when she went to work in Saudi Arabia. She is delighted that there is no such fee this time.
“I do not understand why we have not been asked for any money in this process this time. What is more surprising to me is the fact that the employer is reimbursing us for the expenses we have incurred so far in the process,” she says.
The FAIR project seeks to put an end to unscrupulous and abusive recruitment practices, which in the worst cases, can lead to forced labour. It is piloting a fair recruitment corridor for Nepali workers migrating to work in the garment factories in Jordan.
Fair recruitment implies that recruitment takes place in a manner that respects, protects and fulfills the internationally recognized human rights of the workers. That means no recruitment fees or related costs should be charged to workers, and that terms of recruitment and employment should be clearly disclosed.
Globally, private employment agencies play an important role in cross-border recruitment to match labour demand and supply. In Nepal, official data shows that more than 82 per cent of labour permits issued by the Government over the past nine fiscal years were issued to Nepali workers migrating abroad using services of private employment agencies.
The FAIR project collaborates with private employment agencies that have demonstrated fair recruitment practices. Among them is FSI Worldwide Nepal, a private employment agency that is practicing fair recruitment as a viable business model. FAIR also partners with the HELVETAS Swiss Inter-cooperation Nepal’s Safe Migration project to provide a comprehensive skills’ training programme to workers migrating to work in the Jordanian garment sector under the pilot.
“I have never taken such a training before and I am enjoying it,” says Roshini Pariyar, who is participating in a month-long skills’ training. “I want to use what I learn in Jordan and also establish something of my own when I come back after my contract.”
Meanwhile, Mansuri is already counting how much money he will be able to send home to pay for his daughters’ education and to support his elderly parents.