With 434,000 registered Nepalese workers, Malaysia is the second most popular foreign destination for Nepalese workers after Qatar. As Malaysia’s legal system is more protective to Nepalese and the working conditions and wages are better than the Gulf countries, there is a rush of Nepalese to work in that country.
However, there are certain problems as well. With such a large number of workers, Nepalese are yet to get the permission to work there as domestics. Though his visit was short, Malaysian Human Resources Minister Richard Riot Jaem made a certain breakthrough in this regard.
One of the major breakthroughs is the agreement to form a joint taskforce to finalize two separate Memoranda of Understanding (MoU) -- one on domestic workers and another on general workers -- by the end of 2014.
Visiting Malaysian human resources minister Richard Riot Jaem and Nepal’s State Minister for Labor and Employment Tek Bahadur Gurung have agreed to form a joint taskforce led by joint-secretary-level officials of both the countries. “Our government has decided to start allowing the Nepalese to work as a home manager instead of housemaids. We must seal a separate MoU by the end of this year in this regard,” Jaem said.
The Nepalese side expressed the satisfaction. “It may take two months for the taskforce to complete its draft. But, we target its signing by the end of this year,” said Gurung, Nepalese Minister for State and Labor and Employment.
As Malaysia has a significant role in Nepal’s job market, the signing of the MoU on domestic workers will open the doors for Nepali people to find employment as domestic workers in Malaysia which has so far been hosting Nepali workers only in the construction and manufacturing sectors. According to Nepalese officials, the MoU on general workers will address the overall issues of laborers, including minimum pay, provisions for insurance and other welfare issues, among others.
Malaysian Minister Jaem also met Prime Minister Sushil Koirala. During the meeting, Prime Minister Sushil Koirala requested with the Malaysian minister to safeguard the interest of Nepalese workers. “During the meeting, Prime Minister Koirala also expressed his condolences to the family members of the victims of recent Malaysian plane crash,” said Prakash Adhikary, press coordinator of the prime minister.
"Nepalese are very ‘hardworking, trustworthy, loyal and competent," said the Malaysian minister. “I do not agree with the accusations that Nepali workers are mistreated there. Our government is accommodative and treats them the same as our own local workers. There might be isolated cases where employers mistreat their workers,” the Malaysian minister reportedly told Prime Minister Koirala.
According to Nepalese officials, the joint taskforce will study all drafts of the MoUs that they will send to the Malaysian government as well as process drafts sent by the Malaysian government to Nepal before making the final one.
“There are provisions of free visa, airline tickets and other costs in the drafts sent by Nepal so that the workers do not need to pay for any of the costs, but now all these will be finalized by negotiations in the joint taskforce by considering the Malaysian laws on wages,” Gurung said.
As many illegal Nepalese workers are stranded in Malaysia, Nepali officials also requested the Malaysian Minister Jaem to help with their return from detention in Malaysia to Nepal.
“We sought the help of the Malaysian Minister for the safe return of Nepali workers who are illegally staying there as well as amnesty or legal clearance for workers languishing in Malaysian jails to return,” said minister Gurung. The Malaysian government recently cracked down on illegal and undocumented foreign workers. More than a thousand Nepali workers were arrested during the crackdown.
Malaysia has signed the agreement for employment contract at the meeting and the agreements would be sent to Nepal for study and both sides would hold further discussion and give the final form for the employment contract agreement.
Malaysians are hosting nearly 500,000 Nepalese workers. It has shown the readiness to increase the number of workers in the days ahead. Thus the visit of Malaysian minister Richard Riot Jeam has been very significant.