Around 600 Nepali employees in Malaysia expected to get refunds for recruitment fees Malaysia’s leading glove manufacturer has decided to pay off about 1,600 of its foreign employees.

13th July 2020 Like tens of thousands of Nepali migrant workers who go to foreign employment every year, Kafle, who only wanted to be known by his surname, paid a huge sum of money for a job in Malaysia in 2012 to a recruitment agency in that region.

For a job in WRP Asia Pacific, a leading gloves maker, Kafle paid Rs60,000. “For years, Nepali workers have been paying Rs100,000-Rs150,000 for Malaysian jobs,” Kafle told the Post over the phone from Malaysia.

“I also had to pay for the job for which I had to take a loan.” Now, in an interesting turn of events, Kafle and hundreds of other Nepali workers stand to get reimbursement of the money they had spent to secure jobs in WRP. In a rare instance in the foreign employment sector, the Malaysian company has agreed to return the amount the foreign workers had paid to get jobs there.

“This feels so unreal that workers like me are getting paid back for the expenses we had paid for our jobs,” said Kafle, who hails from Dhankuta.

“No one had ever thought that we would ever receive the money. Every single worker is happy with the decision.” Nearly 1,600 of its workers would benefit from the reimbursement package as part of the WRP’s recruitment fee remediation programme, a local media reported.

The move would also give the nearly 600 Nepali employees employed by WRP Asia Pacific respite. These migrant workers will be paid on a quarterly basis with each worker expected to receive a total payout ranging from Malaysian Ringgit (RM)4,547 to RM16,054 over the period of next 30 months.

The workers’ reimbursement will be cleared in 11 instalments, which will be deposited in the workers’ bank account with their monthly salary, according to the contract document, obtained by the Post. According to Kafle, a Nepali worker would be getting (RM)4,547, which is equivalent to Rs128,063.

“Every Nepali worker, irrespective of when they came and how much they paid for the job, are getting the same amount,” said Kafle. “In the first month we will receive RM 114, then the amount will be raised to around RM200.”

Kafle added the good thing about this scheme was that even those workers who have already left for Nepal after February 31 or planning to leave in near future will also be reimbursed. “They [the employer] have collected all the documents, including bank details, so that they can deposit the amount,” said Kafle.

“Whether Nepali or Bengali, everyone is happy with this news.” Aspiring migrant workers from labour sending countries in South Asia like Nepal have to pay exorbitant fees to local sub-agents and recruiting agencies for overseas jobs.

Despite strict efforts from both governments—labour sending and labour receiving countries, migrant workers have been forced to pay hefty amounts for foreign jobs which should otherwise be free.

Workers often have to take out loans to pay high fees for jobs in overseas. And once they reach their workplace destinations, they are caught in a struggle to pay back the loans; for some, it makes it hard to escape the vicious cycle of labor migration. Recruitment fees and related costs keep poor migrant workers in debt bondage and hence at high risk of forced labour,” said Andy Hall, a Kathmandu-based migrant worker rights specialist working in South and South-East Asia.

“This is because workers are forced to take out high- interest loans from local money lenders and sell property or possessions to ensure the payments needed to be recruited in the first place.”

Such conditions further force them to continue working for the company, however unrewarding a job may be, because of debt bondage, according to Hall. According to the fair and ethical employment requirements of the International Labor Organization, all such payments and other financial and job violations should be deprived of a migrant worker, leading to forced labor and human trafficking.

“The WRP agreeing to pay back workers, who invested a huge sum for jobs, must be a stepping stone to systemic change. It has become the first gloves manufacturer in Malaysia to provide repayment of past worker recruitment fees and related costs,” said Hall.

“Whilst this is a welcome step, the CBP’s approach to WRP is still discriminatory and non-transparent.” According to Hall, forced labour remains widespread across the whole Malaysian rubber gloves industry and other companies have also shown terrible mistreatment of foreign workers.

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