Labor agent proliferation heats up competition

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Steady increase in the numbers of Foreign Workers Recruitment Agents (FWRA) has fueled competition resulting in detriment of individual agent’s business.

Steady increase in the numbers of Foreign Workers Recruitment Agents (FWRA) has fueled competition resulting in detriment of individual agent’s business.

These labor recruitment agents were already up against bigger construction companies that completed recruitment formalities without routing through the agents.

Now the problem comes not only from the established companies. Having to compete among themselves has left them with little profit, claim the agents.

“Though we do not always face losses, it has become more a norm than the exception,” said proprietor of Rickzang FWRA, Neten Wangmo who now operates business from her residential apartment to save costs.

Also, without uniform service charge rate, these agents are forced to compromise the rates due to stiff competition.

Some agents are already on the verge of closure. Expenses go into office rent, staff salary and stationeries items.

Each agent is mandated to employ three staffs, as the Ministry of Labor and Human Resources has directed. Each staff gets a monthly salary of Nu 3,000. But these agents say that two staffs are enough to provide required services.

Many agents are family business ventures run by a couple.

“So, recruiting three staffs when business is at stake is a waste of resources,” said Proprietor of Dechen Zangmo FWRA.

Labor agent owners feel that with the proliferation of labor agents within a short period, approving more licenses is unnecessary.

Some of them said the government should now stop new labor agents from entering the market in Phuentsholing.

Tshering Zangmo of Kinso FWRA said that sometimes she does not receive clients for more than a week especially during Indian festivals. “If it is made mandatory that recruited laborers should route through agents  everyone will be winning. The authorities will not be hassled while we will also get more clients,” she said.

Agents process work and route permits and health checkups for Indian laborers. The service charge ranges from Nu 200-Nu 350.

However, officials from the regional labor office, said that the increasing number of agents could improve service effectiveness and delivery.

“That way, clients will be availing the best services and these agents will put in their best,” said a Labor Officer at Phuentsholing, Chokey.

The labor ministry supports the agents by paying Nu 1,875 as monthly stipend for six months to employees under the pre-employment engagement program. The rest of the amount has to be borne by the agent.

“We have been helping the agents,” said Senior Employment Officer at Phuentsholing, Chuki Dukpa adding that the agents are free to approach the regional office for assistance on stipend.

Currently, there are 31 labor agents in Phuentsholing and two in Samtse.

Krishna Ghalley from Phuentsholing


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