• February 28, 2007
  • Blue Collar Crisis

The Blue Collar Crisis

There has been a lot of commotion in the last weeks about “free visa, free ticket”.  Many of us out the industry, just kept on wondering what it was all about. 
Questions raised about this issue :
1.What does it mean?
2.What's so wrong about it that manpower agencies have gone on week long strike?
3.Why would anyone be willing to give "free visa, free ticket" when workers are already willing to pay for these?
The meaning is quite obvious but still let's explain it. Till this concept, manpower companies sent agents to villages and pulled workers. The package offered to them included : a job , a visa, a ticket. The business model was that there'd be a partner who will be traveling around the world and get job offers and visa through strong networks built on lavish expenditure. Then there'd be another partner here in Nepal who will be dealing with Nepalese bureaucracy and travel agencies. Finally there’d be another partner who will be going to villages to recruit.  It was a profitable business: dealing in a package.  You could mark up on three headings, namely, processing fees, visa, ticket. Also visa’s created a very lucrative niche for profit: it had its own value chain.  Someone bought visa from someone, then the former sold it to another, who sold it to another until it reached the worker. 
Now there is nothing wrong with this: it is what any business is supposed to do.  You do it, we do it and any business who is still in business does it. 
Apparently from this policy what appears to have occurred is that now manpower companies are allowed to profit from only one heading, that is the processing fee.  Indeed now we are talking massive reduction in profit.  That demands a strike.  Again: You would go on a strike in such a case, we would and any business that wants to stay in business would. 
Now we come to the third question.  Who would pay for the visa and ticket ; and why? 
While we are writing this article, Malaysia hired thousands of workers from Bangladesh that they were supposed to hire from Nepal last week. 
So what is going on here?  Manpower agencies lost crores of income in that week.  What is  going on? Besides the government also lost on revenue.  But why is the government pushing “free visa and ticket”?
We believe the answer is not as simple as “it is all about commission”. 
We believe it is an indication of a global crisis in the blue collar segment.  All over the world there is a shortage of construction workers, factory laborers, street cleaners and the like.  So this “free visa, free ticket” concept must be some kind of scheme to attract all the blue collars from developing world to the developed world. 
What’s so bad about it?

Read between the lines
This scheme is a smack on the face of our government that is so shallow and short sighted.  It means:
1.Be born in the developing world like Nepal, Bangladesh, India, Philipines
2.Let your parents take care of you and make you physically strong
3.Get basic education but don’t study much
4.Stay poor , take loans more than you can ever pay back of marriages, luxury goods, etc
5.Then when you are at your peak in age around 20 to 40, come to our country to work
6.We will give you free everything we can like visa and ticket
7.Give your sweat, blood and toil in our country
8.Send remittance to your wife and children
9.Let them buy imported luxury goods we make in our country
10.Then when you have no more strength in your body you are useless to us, so return back to your village
11.Then with the little energy and savings left waste away telling stories of the hardship in our country
12.In this way your country will always remain poor leaving us developing countries an eternal pool of cheap labor. 
Be warned
If we don’t intervene we will run out of blue collar workers.  Who will build our houses, run our factories? 
Wake up.  It is about “free visa, free ticket”.  It is about a hidden conspiracy that will sink us as a country.

Authors: Mohan Ojha & Manohar Man Shrestha