Saturday, November 3, 2012

Old Story-2: Jobs lost, dreams shattered, workers arrive from Malaysia

KATHMANDU, Jan 25: Shree Prasad Nepal of Itahara, Morang flew to Malaysia six months ago with a dream of a better life for himself and his family. He had three years’ job contract with a Malaysian firm. But his dreams shattered as the Malaysian government recently announced it will stop hiring foreign workers owing to the global financial crisis. Shree Prasad, 35, lost his Malaysian job and was forced to return home empty handed Thursday. Now he is also burdened with a loan of Rs 80,000 that remains to be paid out of Rs 120,000 he had taken to fly to Malaysia.

Upon his return he is staying at Parbat Chautari Guest House in Gongabu, Kathmandu in the hope of getting compensation from his manpower agent – Akarshan International – for the loss he suffered.

“The company laid us off abruptly though we have a three-year work contract. We tried to file suit against the company at labor court for compensation but the Nepali mission and our manpower agent did not cooperate,” said Nepal. “We had no option but to return home instead of staying illegally.”

The father of two children lost his job on December 24 at Ever Green Heavy Industrial Corporation, Johar, Malaysia where he was employed on July 21, 2008 as the Taiwanese firm faced huge losses due to ongoing financial crisis.
Some of the laid-off workers staying at Parbat Chautari guest house in Gongabu, Kathmandu. Bijay Rai/

He had taken the loan from a cooperative firm in his village for the overseas job. “I still owe Rs 80,000 to the co-operative. But, I don’t know how will I be able to pay back the loan,” a worried Nepal added.

He is among the 84 Nepalis who returned from Malaysia after the Malaysia-based multinational company — a producer of metal containers – laid off 1,000 foreign workers — including those from Nepal, Indonesia, Vietnam and Cambodia, out of 1,200 workers citing shrinking overseas business.

Most of those returning are from poor families and sole bread-winners for their families. They are staying at Parbat Chautari Guest House and Lumbini Guest House for the last three days hoping for compensation from their Nepal-based manpower agents — Akarshan International and Smart Overseas.

Workers sent by Akarshan International have approached its office at Sinamangal demanding compensation while those sent by Smart Overseas have filed complaint at the Department of Foreign Employment seeking compensation. They are demanding at least Rs 100,000 per head in compensation from their manpower agents.

“Akarshan International has sought seven days [till Friday] to deal with their complaints,” said Birbal Bamjon of Arunthakur-2, Sindhuli, who has a loan of Rs 50,000 taken from the community forest committee in his village. They were employed for 755 ringgits per month (about Rs 16,000). Bomjon had joined the company on July 17, 2008.

Bishnu Pulami of Gulmi, who is among those forced to return home, lost a finger of his right hand and underwent appendicitis operation in the course of his work in Malaysia. The treatment cost him Rs 25,000 that he paid from his own pocket. Workers complain that the manpower agents did not work to help the workers keep their Malaysian jobs or find alternative employment in Malaysia.

However, Prem Karki, Managing Director of Akarshan International claimed that the manpower agents had no fault for the lay-offs and it was because of the financial crisis. “We will decide by Friday on how we can provide compensations to the workers,” he said.

Workers said more Nepali workers in Malaysia are at risk of losing jobs as their employers are facing financial trouble. About 400,000 Nepali are working in Malaysia. Government records show 50,500 Nepalis flew to Malaysia for employment during the fiscal year 2007/08.

Published on 2009-01-25 21:19:00
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