A joint press conference was held on 20 September 2017 at the Nepal Journalists Sports Forum by the Governance Facility and the Everest Premiere League to announce social partnership to promote the campaign 'Dignity of Migrant Workers.' (left to right) Caroline Vandenabeele, Head of GF; Aamir Akhtar, Managing Director of the EPL; Shalini Tripathi, Deputy Head of GF
Sports events are treasured platforms for promoting social causes. And, in Nepal, the millions of migrant workers need such a platform to raise mass awareness about their vulnerabilities and protection, the dangers and risks they face, and the indignities they experience in both their home country and abroad.
During this year’s Annual Everest Premier League (EPL), Nepal’s top T20 cricket tournament, the Governance Facility (GF) is collaborating as the social partner with the theme, ‘Promoting the Dignity of Migrant Workers’. As a crucial part of the GF’s yearlong campaign on this theme, its partnership with EPL is significant to address migrant workers’ vulnerabilities and promote their rights.
Scheduled for December, the EPL tournament will be organized in Kathmandu, will feature six city-based franchise teams, and will be played in round robin league format.
“The GF is really thrilled to partner with the EPL organisers, and especially with Nepal’s six marquee players including the national cricket captain Paras Khadka for taking part in our campaign. We hope our collaborative initiative will gear larger interest in both Nepal and abroad about the concerns of migrant workers,” said Caroline Vandenabeele, Head of the GF.
An estimated 1,500 to 2,000 Nepalis leave the country almost on a daily basis for foreign employment, with a majority of them involved in manual labour. Between 2008 and 2015, a total of 2.7 million Nepali citizens obtained labour permits from the Department of Foreign Employment (DoFE). Overall, the migrant workers to foreign employment make up around 7.3% of the total working population.
The Hard Truth
With such huge number of Nepalis migrating to work overseas, the problems they face are equally huge. Most complaints registered with the DoFE involve migrant workers being cheated about their salary with the agents, hazardous working and living conditions, suffering from physical dangers, and severe mental stress in the destination countries.
There are disturbing facts of migrant workers facing high risks at workplaces and causing disabilities and deaths. Nearly 500 Nepalis suffered from physical disabilities, and over 4,000 were reported dead in 24 destination countries to the Foreign Employment Promotion Board in seven years between 2008 to 2015. There were an average 500 deaths every year (Read fact sheet, ‘Nepali Migrant Workers,’ for more details). Women especially face high risks of workplace violence, abuse, extreme stress and despair, and most of their deaths were due to suicides, according to the report ‘Labour Migration for Employment: A Status Report for Nepal: 2014/2015.’
These problems faced by Nepali migrant workers are clear violations of their rights to decent work as specified in the ILO Agenda on Decent Work.
A hope campaign
“The harsh realities faced by migrant workers are hard to ignore and are constant reminders of what needs to be done for their dignity,” said Vandenabeele. “Campaigning through a sports event, that last year had five million viewers, brings great hope that we can remind Nepali society about how migrant workers and their families suffer, and how respecting them should be a national value around which everyone can rally.”
“Such a significant contribution deserves all of our respect,” said Vandenabeele.
“We are really proud to support the GF’s campaign for the noble cause of millions of our Nepali migrant workers. It is our sincere hope to get their voices heard through our cricketers and more sports stars of every field,” said Aamir Akhtar, Founder and Managing Director of the EPL. He explained migrant workers face quite an irony. “Despite their significant contribution to Nepali society, there seems to be only disregard for the dignity they deserve. We need to turn that around, and EPL will do its bit to be part of that.”
 a tournament in which each competitor plays in turn against every other.  All the data and statistics are based on ‘Labour Migration for Employment: A Status Report for Nepal: 2014/2015.’ Government of Nepal, Ministry of Labour and Employment.