Even as the government plans to send more youths for overseas employment, those who had gone to India through the guaranteed employment programme are planning to return home due to hardship and alleged ill treatment by the employers.

The Ministry of Labour and Human Resources (MoLHR) sent two batches of Bhutanese jobseekers to India to work in hospitality, wellness and call centres. Some 30 of them returned home in a week’s time.

One of the girls who was sent in the first batch told Kuensel that she was planning to return home next month. She said there was no job security and safety was her concern.

The jobs in India were for a two-year period.

The youths Kuensel talked to said the India-based employment consultancy firms did not provide placement to many of the candidates.

“The jobs are guaranteed only in name. Some of us had to look for jobs ourselves although some were provided placement by the consultants,” she said.

Once they lose the first job, they have to look for jobs themselves, they said. Some had to change employers almost every month.

A youth who returned home recently said those without a job put up with their friends. “Most of our friends in India are planning to come back. Some of them do not even have money to come home,” he said.

Once these jobseekers are back, they cannot apply for any vacancies announced by MoLHR. Further, according the labour ministry they will be counted as “employed” because they discontinued the programme prematurely.

Lack of payment and verbal abuse by employers are among the factors discouraging Bhutanese jobseekers and workers in India. According to them, some had to work without salaries for months.

Personal safety of female workers working night shifts is another concern.

“According to our contract agreement, they should provide free pick up and drop, but some of us are working in a company where they don’t provide that facility. It is risky for women,” said the Bhutanese woman working in India.

Those who have come back say that the labour ministry did not come to their rescue although they informed ministry officials many times. The ministry, they said, should monitor and ensure their safety and job security through various measures.

One of the reasons that has made finding jobs in India challenging, according to the youths, is the employers’ refusal to provide experience certificates.

“They kick us out without even a certificate of experience,” she said.

MB Subba