NST 08:04:17am Thu, Aug, 13, 2020

Nepali workers who had returned empty-handed from Qatar three years ago are set to get their due salaries

As many as 34 Nepali workers, who had returned home empty-handed from Qatar, are getting nearly Rs9 million from their employer after almost three years.

The workers who were employed by Mercury MENA, an engineering company linked to FIFA 2022 World Cup in Qatar, had come back to Nepal in different months of 2017 after a financial crisis shut down the company.

According to Bhisma Kumar Bhusal, director general at the Department of Foreign Employment, the Nepali workers would soon be getting their unpaid salary.

“We will be soon publishing the details of workers who would be getting their due salaries,” Bhusal told the Post. “The workers need to submit their details so that the money could be deposited into their accounts.”

Problems at the Mercury MENA, an engineering and plumbing firm, started after February 2016, leaving hundreds of workers from various countries unpaid for months.

After months of struggling without money and job, dozens of Nepali workers, who were stranded in Qatar, started returning home in 2017. Since then, they were just hoping that they would get their money someday.

In November 2017 alone, 36 Nepali migrant workers returned without their salaries, paying for a return ticket from their own pocket, the workers who had told the Post.

According to Ramesh Bahadur Shahu, a case manager at Pravasi Nepali Coordination Committee (PNCC), an organisation working for the welfare of Nepali migrants, several workers had approached his office in 2017 for rescue and recovery of their due wages.

“Workers’ difficulties had started in early 2016. Some Nepali workers had received money after the local Qatari authorities intervened,” said Shahu. “In 2017, we recorded details of 35 Nepali workers who had returned unpaid and forwarded these details to Amnesty International.”

The matter was then picked up by Amnesty International, which launched an investigation into the matter and found that Mercury MENA took advantage of the sponsorship system in Qatar to exploit workers, failed to pay thousands of dollars in wages and benefits to hundreds of migrant workers and left them stranded in Qatar.

Amnesty International had analysed cases of 78 former Mercury MENA workers coming from India, Nepal and the Philippines, and exposed that the workers were subjected to various forms of exploitation by the company.

Later in 2019, it was also reported that many of those had to sell their properties to pay medical bills and for clearing debts that had racked up while waiting for their due salaries.

Nepali workers’ hope of receiving their salary revived only after Amnesty International approached the Department of Foreign Employment regarding the matter nearly two months ago.

Following the correspondence, the department then informed the Nepali Embassy in Doha about the matter and shared the list of workers who were waiting for their pay.

“After the embassy took up the matter and approached the local employer, it agreed to clear the dues of Nepali workers,” said Bhusal. “Workers’ salaries were due from three to six months. The Nepali Embassy will send the money in their bank accounts. We estimate many of them have already migrated abroad.”

Every year, a significant number of Nepali workers are forced to return home empty-handed when either their companies are shut down or they are left stranded after being cheated by their employers and recruiting agencies back home. A majority of them never get their wages when they return home.

“If anything goes wrong, employers or recruiting agencies back home are expected to come forward to compensate these workers,” said Bhusal. “We have started exploring ways to ensure these workers can be provided with compensation. One of them could be paying them from the guaranteed amount deposited by the recruiting agencies for running their business.”

Source: https://kathmandupost.com

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