Nepal’s fair recruitment corridor
Nepali migrant workers suffer widespread abuse by recruiters, increasing the risk of further exploitation and forced labour down the road. Nepal is determined to break this cycle. Together with the ILO, Nepal has started on a journey to make fair recruitment a reality. A hundred migrant workers have already been recruited fairly to work in Jordan’s garment factories.
SCALE: Over 25% of Nepalis are abroad, with the vast majority using middlemen, or recruiters, to arrange their travel and work.
ISSUE: Abuses during recruitment are rife. In Nepal, recruiters are illegally charging fees, often amounting to many months╒ wages. They also withhold relevant information, deceive prospective migrants about the nature of the work and/or working conditions, and give migrant workers illegal documents.
‘They said we could only go if we paid.
Some paid $145, others $195,
some even paid as much as $385′
As a first step the ILO convened all supply chain actors for the first time. These range from international garment brands sourcing from Jordan such as GAP and Nike, to Jordanian factories, the recruiters and workers in Nepal, to trade unions, employers’ organizations and, of course, the governments of Nepal and Jordan.
The emphasis of meetings has been firmly on finding practical solutions that reflect business realities. The strong relationships forged between stakeholders provided fertile ground for an innovative concept: The world’s first fair recruitment corridor. The corridor was set up in 2015 as part of the ILO’ Fair Recruitment Initiative. Eventually all Nepali workers migrating to Jordan will pass through the corridor.
- Approximately 100 Nepali workers have been fairly recruited to work in the Jordan garment sector
- Workers coming to Jordan are better prepared and, as a result, more productive earlier on
- They are more prepared to speak up if they have issues or complaints
- This has led to more effective and quicker grievance handling and problem solving
Nepali migrant workers celebrating at their workers’ centre in Jordan, set up by a related ILO project.
How it was done
The ILO set up and is delivering an ongoing action programme with four intervention tracks. Some of the highlights are described below.
1. Pre-departure training and information
The ILO and four Jordanian garment factories designed a technical skills training programme for prospective migrants. The factories contributed tools such as sewing machines and send factory staff to help deliver the training. Trainees also attend information sessions on the work and living environment in Jordan.
Labour contracts are reviewed in detail with migrants to ensure that they fully understand the terms and conditions of their employment. Workers also receive information on their rights and how to access them.
Prospective migrants who have proudly and
successfully completed their technical training.
2. Raising recruitment standards
The pilot currently works with one labour recruitment agency in Nepal that follows the ILO Principles and Guidelines for Fair Recruitment. This agency has expanded its field presence to the village level to avoid relying on potentially unscrupulous sub-agents.
The agency now takes full responsibility for the recruitment of workers directly from the village to their actual deployment in a Jordanian factory. It now has a presence in five district areas in different parts of the country and staff have visited with workers and their families in over 50 villages.
The ILO has trained recruitment agencies interested in joining the programme on fair recruitment. The ILO is working directly with one agency to address gaps in policies and procedures so that it can participate in the corridor.
In Jordan, information sharing and problem solving workshops with factory managers are held on a quarterly basis. The workshops demonstrate the benefits of fair recruitment, identify obstacles to expanding the corridor and develop action plans to overcome these. The four factories that are part of the pilot attend as well as several others interested in joining.
3. Trade union capacity building
From the outset of the programme the ILO kept Jordanian and Nepali trade unions informed to bring them on board. Nepali trade union representatives have visited Jordan to meet with their counterparts and with Nepalis working in the garment sector to better understand their living and working situations.
One major outcome of these interactions has been the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding by a major Nepali union and the Jordan garment union. This outlines how they will cooperate with each other to protect and advance the interests of Nepali workers in Jordan.
4. A bilateral labour migration agreement
Assisted by the ILO, Nepal and Jordan negotiated a labour migration agreement that was signed in 2017. The agreement covers basic recruitment and employment terms. It complies with ILO standards and best practice, helping to remove opportunities for abuse.
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.
‘I was not paid what I was promised, nor did I get enough food to eat,’ he says.
When he returned to Nepal he was determined he would never migrate again.
But he is now set to leave once more, this time
through the Nepal-Jordan fair recruitment corridor.
He 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.
Would you like to know more?
National Project Coordinator
Integrated Programme on Fair Recruitment
ILO Country Office for Nepal