Minister for Labor Gokarna Bista and his Malaysian counterpart M Kula Segaran shake hands after signing a memorandum of understanding at Hyatt Regency in Kathmandu on Monday. | Photo: Dipesh Shrestha/Republica
Employment firms fear demand for Nepali labor will drop
KATHMANDU, Oct 30: Nepali workers going to Malaysia will not now have to pay a single rupee . Under a memorandum of understanding signed with Nepal on Monday, Malaysia has agreed to not place any financial burden on Nepalis bound for Malaysia for employment.
Visiting Malaysian Minister of Human Resources M Kula Segaran and Nepal's Minister for Labour, Employment and Social Security Gokarna Bista signed the MoU at a function here. The MoU comes nearly two decades after Malaysia started hiring workers from Nepal.
The two minister said that the MoU aims at establishing a framework for the recruitment, employment and repatriation of workers and for protecting the rights of both workers and employers.
Addressing a press meet following the MoU signing ceremony , Labour Minister Bista said that all costs, including service charges, visa fee, medical check-up, security screening and airfare, will now be borne by the employers in Malaysia.
“Unlike earlier, there will not be any costs for workers associated with employment in Malaysia,” said Bista.
Nepali workers must be paid their remuneration into their bank accounts by the 7th of each month and they will draw at least the minimum wage and other remuneration in accordance with the regulations of Malaysia, he said .
Similarly, Nepali workers will be entitled to insurance cover if this is introduced by Malaysia for foreign workers. If a close kin of a Nepali working in Malaysia dies, the worker will be provided a 15-day leave to return home.
The employer will be responsible for repatriating the body of any worker who dies in Malaysia, and Nepal's embassy should be notified immediately in case of serious injury.
Likewise, Malaysian Minister Kula Segaran said that the objective of the MoU was to ensure that the recruitment, employment and repatriation of workers take place in orderly fashion under the labor laws of Malaysia.
“The MoU is in line with the principles set out by the International Labor Organization and in accordance with national legislation, and it is standardized with MoUs signed with other countries,”said the Malaysian minister.
He also said that the contracts for employment shall be of two years. Such contracts should be made available to workers in the Nepali language, they must include provisions like wages, bank accounts, holidays and mandatory accommodation facilities to be provided by the employer in Malaysia.
According to Kula Segaran, only a licensed Malaysian recruiting agency (MRA) will be allowed to recruit workers and they have to recruit in Nepal through a licensed recruiting agency here.
However, a worker bound for Malaysia will have to cover some costs like medical and security clearance, which will be reimbursed in Malaysia on receiving the first month's salary.
“Basically, we arrange all costs for the workers. But, it shall not cost more than 505 Malaysian ringgit [approximately Rs 14,000] to come for employment in Malaysia now,” said Kula Sagaran.
Malaysia is one of the preferred foreign destinations for Nepali workers. According to data at the Ministry of Human Resources of Malaysia, there are 358,211 Nepalis in Malaysia out of a total of 1.89 million foreign workers as of September-end. This means one in five foreign workers in Malaysia is a Nepali .
Though Nepal has already introduced a 'free visa free ticket' system under which workers pay nothing more than a certain amount for service charges, this system was not implemented effectively due to the lack of an MoU with the destination country.
Manpower recruiting firms in Nepal, meanwhile, do not seem happy with the MoU. “The MoU has been signed without any consultations with or suggestions from us. We were demanding a service charge equivalent to a worker's one month's salary . But this has been reduced to half a month's salary,” said Rohan Gurung, president of Nepal Association of Foreign Employment Agencies (NAFEA). “Our concern is that Malaysian employers might now look for workers from other countries, where they will not have to bear all these costs. This will reduce the demand for Nepali workers,” he added.