FRI between Nepal and Jordan offers fair recruitment to migrant workers

By Laxman Datt Pant

FRI between Nepal and Jordan offers fair recruitment to migrant workers

The Fair Recruitment Initiative (FRI) between Nepal and Jordan, designed in collaboration with the Better Work Jordan, has offered fair recruitment to 160 migrant workers in selected Jordanian garment factories. This pilot initiative was undertaken with a total of four factories in Jordan that had expressed interest in participating.

Beneficiaries of this Integrated Programme on Fair Recruitment (FAIR) included Nepalese migrant workers from areas that were seriously affected by the 7.8 magnitude earthquake that racked Nepal in 2015 claiming over 8,000 lives and causing injury to more than 16,000 people. The districts of Nepal severely affected by the earthquake were Gorkha, Dhading, Rasuwa, Sindhupalchok, Kavre, Nuwakot, Dolakha, Kathmandu, Lalitpur, Bhaktapur, Ramechhap, Okhaldunga, Sindhuli, and Makwanpur.

Through FAIR, the International Labour Organization (ILO) linked up with a private employment agency that developed the procedures for the fair recruitment of Nepalese migrant workers in the garment sector in Jordan in line with the ILO General Principles and Operational Guidelines for fair recruitment (GPOG). The factsheet issued by the ILO on April 7 states.

  • The project, which is in collaboration with the General Federation of Nepalese Trade Unions and the General Trade Union of Workers in Textile, Garment and Clothing Industries in Jordan, has facilitated Nepalese migrant workers’ access to justice in cases of irregularities in the recruitment and employment process
  • This initiative has also been successful in informing migrant workers of their rights, especially with regards to collective bargaining
  • The fairly recruited migrant workers, who were not required to pay recruitment fees, had less migration-related debt
  • The fairly recruited migrant workers were also likely to feel proud of their work and were comfortable seeking help from their supervisors upon arrival
  • Back in 2017, Nepal and Jordan signed a bilateral labor agreement that exempted Nepalese migrant workers from the fee required to obtain work visas in Jordan
  • Jordan hosts approximately 8,000 Nepalese migrant workers in the garment sector
  • The minimum salary of general and domestic workers in Jordan is US$200 and US$300 respectively

The pilot project, which is partnered with Safer Migration Initiative (SaMi), in Nepal provides a month’s training for the skills required to work in the garment sector in Jordan. The training also focuses on pre-departure awareness aimed at providing workers with accurate information about their labor rights in Jordan.

The key benefits of fair recruitment for migrant workers under this initiative, as concluded by Tufts University after carrying out an impact study, include protection from contract deception and debt bondage, more positive personality traits, more control over their working conditions, better understanding of the terms of their contracts and being more likely to reach their production targets.

“The decent work deficits in the destination country may erode some of the benefits of fair recruitment, hence work on fair recruitment needs to go hand in hand with efforts to improve working conditions of migrant and national workers at destination,” the study recommended.

Likewise, the study documented that the fair recruitment process increased the voice and wellbeing of workers and fostered an improved working environment which positively impacted performance at work thereby benefitting both workers and their employers.

The FRI aims to ensure recruitment practices nationally and across borders are grounded in labor standards, developed through social dialogue, and ensure gender equality. This initiative is said to have generated interest in adopting a fair business model among recruitment agencies in Nepal.