Making Fair Recruitment a reality!
December 21, 2017
For the first time, an ILO project fosters Nepalese workers to be recruited fairly to work in Jordan in the garment sector. This project demonstrates that positive change can happen when all the key actors along a supply chain work together.
Photo: Arthur Ancion
“They said we could go only if we paid a certain amount. Some paid $145, others $195, some even paid as much as $385” said Lakshmi, a young Nepalese woman, about the recruiters who sent her to work in Jordan.
Most of the Nepali workers migrating to Jordan to work in the garment sector are young women with only a basic education and who come from poor families. Typically, they are required to pay large recruitment fees to recruiters and sub-agents, often arriving in Jordan in significant debt.
Deceived about their working and living conditions, these workers often count the days that they can pay off their debt and return home. “The recruiters told us we would earn around $300 but when we got there it was only $155”, said Lakshmi.
Thousands of migrant workers are deceived by unscrupulous recruiters, ending up in extremely difficult situations, which can amount to forced labour.
Unlike Lakshmi, Bipana and Sushila, two other young women from Nepal, haven’t paid a single rupee to work in Jordan. The difference is “FAIR”.
Bipana and Sushila are two of the beneficiaries of a very innovative ILO programme called “FAIR” which promote fair recruitment practices globally and across specific migration routes in North Africa, the Middle East and South Asia, building on two key principles:
- Workers should not pay any recruitment fees, and
- Workers should be fully informed about their working and living conditions in countries of destination through written contracts in their language
To prevent workers to end in Lakshmi’s situation, the ILO has been working with all the key actors along the supply chain, from the international garment brands sourcing from Jordan, Jordanian factories, the recruiters and workers in Nepal, the workers and employers organization to the governments.
“In Nepal, I’ve received information about working conditions, salary, medical care”, explains Bipana, who also received effective garment skills training. “Now I feel confident to go to Jordan”. They received proper information about working and living conditions as well as their rights and possibilities to unionize in Jordan.
“Indeed, a lot happens before migration. In order to ensure no fees are paid, it’s instrumental to reach out to workers at the village level” explains Tristan Forster from FSI, a worldwide recruitment agency.
Bipana, Sushila and fellow Nepalese workers recruited fairly to Jordan through the FAIR project
Already there are signs that the labour recruitment cultures in Nepal and Jordan are beginning to change thanks to the project, with more and more factories and recruitment agencies being encouraged to adopt fair recruitment practices in both countries.
“The power of international brands to encourage positive change in their labour supply chains cannot be overemphasized” explains Philip Fishman from the ILO. “In Jordan, well-known international brands have committed to promote fair recruitment principles as good business practice and as one important way to reduce the risk to their international reputations. As a result, increasingly they are requiring their factory suppliers to adopt fair recruitment policies and practices as a condition for doing business”.
After overcoming many obstacles and challenges, the Nepal-Jordan fair recruitment corridor is up and running and fair recruitment is happening. “I’d love to see this project grow and increase. We are looking for industry-wide change, we need everyone to kick-in together”, said Kindley Walsh-Lawlor from GAP Inc.
“FAIR” is part of a global “Fair Recruitment Initiative”, launched by the ILO in 2014, which aims to prevent human trafficking and forced labour, and protect the rights of workers (including migrant workers) from abusive and fraudulent practices during the recruitment process.