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HIV Hit Can Have a Job in Korea
By Anil Giri
Kathmandu Correspondent
Potential migrant workers afflicted with HIV/AIDS will not be barred from working in South Korea. The government has withdrawn the HIV/AIDS test provision from its medical test list, which was mandatory for migrant workers to obtain working permits after passing the Korean Language Test (KLT).

The government has decided to allow migrant workers infected with HIV/AIDS to work under the Employment Permit System (EPS) as per the international human rights instrument on HIV/AIDS and the world of work.

The migrant workers had to pass the medical test to get work permits after they passed the EPS exam. Under the medical testing system, aspirant migrant workers had to clear medical tests for various transmissible diseases including HIV/AIDS.

Now onwards, even if any KLT-pass individual has HIV/AIDS, he will be allowed to work in Korea under EPS, said Mohan Krishna Sapkota, director general of the Department of Foreign Employment.

The decision of the government came after the United Nations appealed that the adverse policies of the government in different countries were discriminating against infected people and their working rights. The UN paper released in August 2009 at the 9th International Congress on AIDS in Asia and Pacific (ICAAP) says that the International Labour Organization is in the process of formulating an international human rights instrument on HIV/AIDS and the world of work.

“If adopted in 2010, this standard focusing solely on HIV and the world of work will give new impetus to anti-discrimination policies for migrant workers in different countries,” the paper says.

Korea, which has been one of the major labour destinations for Nepali workers in terms of financial returns and safety, has recognised Nepal as the best labour supplying country for its shortest processing period and good performance of Nepali workers.

The government of Nepal started sending workers to South Korea from 2008 under the EPS. This year, Korea has fixed a 4,000 quota for Nepali migrant workers under which the government is conducting medical tests on 4,180 who have passed the EPS.

In March 2008, when the government had conducted Korean language test for the first time, 6,768 applicants, out of 32,000, had passed the test. Of them, 6,586 were listed on the job roster and 6,400 workers had signed job contracts with Korean firms. So far, over 6,000 Nepali workers have left the country to work in Korea’s agriculture, fishery, and construction, manufacturing and service sectors.

Due to Nepal’s good track record in sending workers on time and supplying qualified labor under EPS scheme, the government had asked the Korean government to increase the quota for 2010.

“Nepalis selected for foreign employment under the EPS can earn an average of Rs. 100,000 a month,” said Sapkota. Nepal and Korea had signed a labour agreement on July 23, 2007 to send Nepali workers through the EPS. The system allows employers to hire foreign workers to meet their workforce requirement.

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Anil Giri serves as Kathmandu Correspondent for The Seoul Times.As a journalist he has worked for such news media as Annapurna Post, BBC, and Himalayan Times for years. He finished his both undergrad Economics degree and his MA degree in English Literature at Tribhuvan Univ., Kathmandu. He also holds a diploma in Development Journalism from prestigious Indian Institute of Mass Communication-IIMC, New Delhi, India.






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