Shady firms swindle youths through misleading job announcements

Sujit Mainali / July 23, 2015

A vacancy announcement published in Kantipur daily’s “Classified Display” section on 3 June, 2015, said a Kathmandu-based firm urgently needed 50 workers.

“The jobholders will be assigned table work, no interview will be conducted and job is guaranteed for all applicants,” the advertisement read, adding, “Those who have passed SLC send-up, SLC or plus two exams can apply. The job is also open for those who cannot read or write.” The advertisement stated that part-time and full-time jobholders would be paid Rs 18,000 and Rs 35,000 per month, respectively. This range of salary is regarded as handsome in Nepal, where a government section officer earns Rs 24,900 per month.

When job aspirants contact the phone number given in the advertisement, they learn that the prospective employer is P & T Handicraft Pvt Ltd based at Old Baneshwar, Kathmandu. As one enters the reception room of this firm, they see wheat straw portraits of Mao Zedong, Vladimir Lenin and Che Guevara hanging on the walls.

When enquired about the nature of the job, the counselor at P & T said their office offers three kinds of jobs: making pictures from wheat straw, dealing with international customers from its call center, or working as a typist.

“If you can speak English fluently, then you will be offered a job at the call center where your starting salary will be Rs 10,000 per month. And if you have good typing skills and have internet connection at home, you can work from home as a typist and earn Rs 10,000 a month,” says the counselor. The amount was half of what was mentioned in the advertisement.

“But if you don’t have the two aforementioned skills, then you can make wheat straw portraits and earn up to Rs 36,000 per month,” he added.

The job does not require any educational qualification.

“You have to paste chhwali (wheat straws) on a paper, dry it and cut it carefully along the trace lines to get a copy of the picture of the chhwali. Those engaged in the work can earn up to Rs 35,000 per month along with Rs 100 as daily bonus,” says the lady counselor of the Chabahil-based M.K. Service Nepal, which had published a similar vacancy announcement in the “Classified Display” section of Kantipur Daily of the same date.

“You have to produce four pictures per day,” the counselor at M K Services, Nepal, added, “If you can produce 100 pictures per month, you will earn Rs 17,500 plus Rs 100 as lunch allowance daily. And if you manage to produce 200 pictures, you can earn Rs 35,000 per month plus the daily lunch allowance. If you are unable to produce 100 pictures per month, then you will be paid between Rs 70 and Rs 200 rupees per picture.”

Binaya Rajopadhyaya, a resident of Kuleshwar, Kathmandu, who is skilled in wheat straw art and craft, says it is impossible to produce even 100 pictures a month.

“Wheat straw art is different from other forms of art,” he says, “You have to cut straw in pieces of different sizes and paste them again painstakingly. It can take several weeks or months to produce a good piece of art.”

“A few years back, when I was very much enthusiastic and worked very hard, I could produce one art in 2-3 days. So it is completely impossible for a trainee to produce 200 artworks in a month,” says the 43-year-old.

But the counselor of NDDPC, another similar firm based at Chabahil, Kathmandu, tries to convince employment seekers saying that many people are making a good living in Kathmandu by making wheat straw pictures for his company.

Ammar GC, a Kathmandu-based journalist who had published an investigative cover story in Shukrabar weekly on January 9, 2015 on how unemployed youths are cheated through misleading job advertisements, said the salaries advertised are a lie.

“During my investigation I found that these firms sell job application forms and make the job applicants undergo a paid training. And after the training, only a handful of applicants are selected for employment. The new recruits are made to work for about eight hours a day and are paid between Rs 4,000 and Rs 8,000 a month,” he said.

According to GC, these firms’ main source of income is the money received by selling application forms and conducting training.

P & T, M K Service Nepal and NDDPC are not the only firms that publish such misleading vacancy announcements. On June 3, Kantipur daily published eight such advertisements including those by the three firms in the “Classified Display” section. They choose to publish advertisements in this section for it costs cheaper. Similar announcements are published in the “Classified Display” section in other national dailies every day.

Cheating through application forms and training fees

The employment seekers are asked to fill up a form by paying Rs 100-200. After that, they will be asked to pay another Rs 3,000-4,000 for a week-long training on producing wheat straw pictures.

“If you are sharp enough, you will learn the skill within 2-3 days. Otherwise, you need training for one whole week. After completing the training, you will be assigned to produce pictures. You can make the pictures at home and submit them at our office and collect your payment,” says the counselor at NDDPC.

Except for the salary amount for call center worker, other information given by NDDPC was similar to that of M K Services Nepal. “If you wish to work at the call center, you will be paid salary of Rs 10,000-18,000 per month in the beginning,” says the counselor of the NDDPC, adding, “Later on, you will be promoted and the salary will increase accordingly.”

Journalist GC further said that firms which claim to sell herbal and medical products are also cheating unemployed youths by publishing misleading job announcements. “When job seekers approach the firms after reading the advertisement, they are asked to deposit about Rs 10,000 and academic certificates as security deposit and are sent out to the market to sell the firm’s products,” he said, adding, “The quality and price of these products are not competitive enough so it is extremely difficult so sell them. Also, newly-appointed sales staffers tend to spend more in travel expenses compared to what they earn as commissions.”

Suman Rai, a 24 years youth who is now learning Korean language to visit South Korea for employment, recalls how he was cheated by a Kathmandu-based herbal company. After reading the vacancy announcement in a newspaper, he visited the office of the company at Koteshwar and filled up a form by paying Rs 200. Then, he was given a big bag of herbal products and was dispatched to villages to sell them.

“The office provided us a fake identity card of a college and asked us to tell the customers that we were students of marketing sent by the college for our practical examinations and our scores depend upon the quantity we sell. We would be paid commissions for each product we sold,” he recalled.

With a group of youths like him, he went to villages in various districts to sell the herbal products. In the districts, they would eat and stay at local lodges and each would spend on average Rs 300-500 per day.

“Our commissions would be much less compared to what we spent,” he says, “After a few months, I decided to quit the low-paying job and visited the company’s office to take back my educational certificates. Then I learnt that the balance on my salary account was negative so I had to borrow Rs 6,000 from my parents to settle the accounts and get back the certificates.”

Anil Yadav, a 22-year-old youth from Jhapa is another victim of such advertisement.

“About two years ago, I read a vacancy announcement for the post of typist with handsome salary and visited the office of the employer based at Dillibazar, Kathmandu. They made me fill up an application form and charged Rs 200 for that. Then they made me pay another Rs 3,000 for two CDs containing scanned images of old manuscripts which I was supposed copy line by line,” he recalled.

Before paying Rs 3,000, he was asked to copy a manuscript and submit it within three-five days. “After I paid the money, they told me that I cannot make more than six typographical errors per assignment. Even an omission or addition of a comma would be regarded as mistake. They told me that I would get Rs 9,000 if I was able to complete the work within the deadline,” he said.

Only after he begun typing at home, he learnt that the work was extremely difficult. “The old manuscripts were difficult to decipher. I even sought help from a friend of mine who was very good at typing. But even he could not type more than one page in several hours. The sample manuscript shown to me before filling the application form was much easier. They swindled Rs 3,200 from me,” he said.
Violation of Consumer Protection Act.

The cheating of unemployed youths in broad daylight through such misleading vacancy announcements is serious violation of the rights of employment seekers. Also, the right of the citizens to correct information from newspapers has also been breached.

The Consumer Protection Act, 1998, has clearly mentioned that it is illegal to “sell or supply any consumer goods or services through false or misleading claims.” According to the Act anyone engaged in cheating the public through misleading information can get a jail term of up to five years or a fine of up to Rs 100,000 or both.

Jyoti Baniya, the general secretary of the Forum for Protection of Consumer Rights, says that the aforementioned firms have been taking advantage of the inactive law enforcement agencies and helpless victims. He says that the government will be bound to take action if anyone files complaint with the relevant authorities.

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