When Laxmi Tamang was asked to travel from Kathmandu to New Delhi via bus and only then board her flight to Kuwait, she thought little of it. It was 2018 and 27-year-old Tamang believed that the route was necessary because Nepal did not have direct flights to Kuwait. She was going to Mangaf, a city on the eastern shore of Kuwait, to work as domestic help.
Saudi Arabia has introduced massive labour reforms aimed at millions of expats working in the country. A slew of reforms, which came into effect from Sunday, will benefit over 10 million expatriates living in the kingdom, including Nepali migrant workers.
Foreign employment recruiting agencies are yet again in the mood for confrontation with the government. This time, the disagreement surfaced after the government announced plans to send Nepali workers to Qatar under a Government-to-Government modality.
More than 700,000 have applied for employment opportunities under the Prime Minister Employment Programme, which provides a minimum 100 days of wage-employment for jobless citizens. This reflects the unemployment scenario in the country in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic.
कोरोनाभाइरस महामारी फैलिएको भए पनि यसपालि अघिल्लो वर्षको तुलनामा झन्डै ११ प्रतिशतले विप्रेषण वृद्धि भएको तथ्याङ्कले देखाएको छ। यसबाट वैदेशिक रोजगारीको क्षेत्र तत्काल कोभिड-१९ को ठूलो जोखिममा नरहेको सङ्केत देखिएको अधिकारी तथा विज्ञहरूको धारणा छ।
Covid-19 taught Nepalis a painful lesson that overreliance on foreign jobs is dangerous for the households and national economy, but policy makers have failed to employ returning workers, forcing them to go back again.
Labour migration experts say while the proposed changes may have good intentions, requirements like English communication skill is not going to resolve the problem rooted in lack of jobs at home and dishonest recruitment agencies.
‘हामीजस्तो गैरकानुनी हैसियतमा बस्नेलाई कसैले हेरेको छैन । यो समयमा सबैभन्दा बढी जोखिममा त हामी नै छौं। हाम्रो पीडामाथि सबै मिलेर मादल बजाउने काम भयो । त्यो धुनमा हामीलाई नचाइयो । नेपाल जाने विषय पनि दन्त्य कथाजस्तो हुन लाग्यो ।’