Government of Nepal faces backlash and criticism by Labour Migration Experts as it decides to resume foreign employment

The Covid-19 Crisis Management Centre (CCMC), on recommendation of Ministry of Labour, Employment and Social Security passed the decision of allowing the workers to go for foreign employment. The workers include Nepali citizens, as well as migrant workers.

The decision of resuming labour migration came at a time when the world is grappling with the Covid-19 pandemic crisis.

“The decision applies to all those migrant workers who are home on leave as well first-timers. We will have to slowly learn and live amidst the Covid-19 and carry on our daily life and economic activities too. We will go ahead and implement the decision at the earliest with the drafting of the guidelines for facilitating the whole process.”

Suman Ghimire

Labour migration is likely to resume with this decision which was non-operational since the pandemic induced lockdowns were implemented in Nepal.

Suman Ghimire, spokesperson with Ministry of Labour said, “The decision applies to all those migrant workers who are home on leave as well first-timers. We will have to slowly learn and live amidst the Covid-19 and carry on our daily life and economic activities too. We will go ahead and implement the decision at the earliest with the drafting of the guidelines for facilitating the whole process.”

However, this decision is being criticized by the labour and migration experts in Nepal who are calling it as a premature decision and contradiction of country’s own labour policies.

Jeevan Baniya, a labour migration expert at Centre for the Study of Labour and Mobility (CESLAM) said, “If the decision were only for workers who had returned home on leave from the countries like South Korea and Japan where the Covid-19 situation has largely come under control, it would have made sense.” He further added, “However, allowing everyone, including new workers to migrate to Covid-19 hit job destinations, where a large number of Nepali workers are already working and staying, will only put them at further risk.”

Experts are of view that an analysis of countries must be made to decide on implementing this decision, for the safety of workers irrespective of the fact if they have international labour permits. Moreover, sending Nepali citizens to pandemic hit nations would only overburden government regarding safety of nationals where it is still in process of repatriating its citizens from various countries.

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Dr. Neha Mathur

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