“The Worker is Toiling in the Construction Sector & Contributing to the Development of the Country. He Does Not Deserve This!”

Increasing numbers of Nepalese workers are being deported merely for seeking payment of their outstanding wage arrears, Nepal’s ambassador has charged. Ambassador Surya Nath Mishra told Gulf Times that the issue was quite serious.

For instance, when a poor worker does not get paid, he comes under tremendous pressure from his family back home who depend on his meager monthly remittances.
Obviously, when the remittances stop, the family would starve and this makes the worker frustrated and tense.

Pushed to the wall, the worker would go up to the employer to seek the arrears.
After making requests for one or two days, he is bound to raise his voice. This is often interpreted by the employer as “militancy” and a complaint is lodged against the worker seeking his deportation, the ambassador explained. This is becoming a common occurrence.

“If he has to go back within the first two years, it will be really terrible. How can he go back? Everyone at home is dependent on his salary. And what is he punished for? For seeking something which is rightfully his”, the ambassador asked.

The workers would have spent QR6,000 or more to get to Qatar, towards recruiting agency charges and other expenses. If the worker is deported, he and his family could be in deep trouble, and probably in debt throughout his life.

The number of disgruntled workers is increasing, with most complaining of non-payment of wages and poor living conditions, he said.

Non-payment of overtime wages even after working for 12 hours a day is a serious issue, ambassador said. Similarly, poor accommodation facilities add to workers’ misery.

“The worker is toiling in the construction sector and contributing to the development of the country. He does not deserve this”.

He said the embassy did not mind so much if a company wanted to keep one or two months’ wages in arrears. But often, the outstanding wages ran into several months.
When such workers approached the embassy, it sent them to the Labor Department which helped the laborer to collect the back pay and a ticket home.

“We have no other option but to send him to the Labor Department”.
Mishra said the embassy was preparing a “watch list” of companies which made Nepalese workers’ life miserable. “We will not supply manpower to such companies in the future.” The ambassador, however, said he wasn’t sure if it would work. “This is just one way”.

Mishra disclosed that the embassy received more than 100 complaints every day. Some of the complaints also related to deduction of residence permit charges from the workers by some companies. Some firms deducted full, some half from the workers while some bore the expenses themselves.

“When the wages are just QR600 and if you deduct the RP charges from it, what is left for him and his family”, he asked. Some companies also do not pay for the ticket and this puts additional burden on the worker, he pointed out.

Workers absconding from their sponsors often approached the embassy seeking to return home. They had no passport or legal documents. In such cases, the embassy prepared travel documents and helped them get home, the ambassador said.

Source: Gulf Times