Better deal sought for Nepali MWs

DUBAI: Nepal’s visiting Minister of Labour and Transport Mohammed Aftab Alam discussed the low wages being paid to Nepali migrant workers (MWs) in comparison to workers of other countries in the UAE.

Minister Alam held talks in

Abu Dhabi with the UAE Minister for Labour, Saqr Gobash, and the Minister of Foreign Trade, Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi on a gamut of issues like wages, the image of Nepali expatriates and housemaids’ jobs for Nepali women.

Alam said the Nepal government is making efforts to increase employment opportunities and improve working conditions for Nepalis in the UAE, including raising the minimum acceptable wage it set last year. “Nepali workers’ wages are set at Dh600 ($163) by our government. However, we see that workers from other nations are taken at higher wages than Nepali workers,” he said adding that he raised the issue in the discussion with the UAE ministers.

“We hope it is resolved soon,” Alam said. “The government also plans to lift the ban on Nepali women working as housemaids in Gulf countries.” He added that Nepali maids are still being hired illegally and that removing the ban could help regulate the process and even lead to the offenders being caught. “We are considering lifting the ban on our citizens working as housemaids in Gulf countries as well as raising the minimum wage acceptable for those taking jobs in the UAE,” he said adding that if the government opens the market, action can be taken against agents. “I will submit a detailed report about this to the government,” he said.

Alam also promised action against recruitment agents who made false promises to construction workers. “Agents violating laws are an issue for the government and we are studying how to counter them. We intend to bring them under the laws of Nepal and strict legal action would be taken against these offenders,” he said.

With high unemployment

and a weak economy following years of civil strife, Nepal relies heavily on the millions of dollars remitted by non-resident Nepalis around the world. A large number of Nepalis in the UAE are employed as construction workers while some work as security guards or in the hospitality industry. Several others have businesses here.

“Nepali workers are disciplined, good and hardworking, which is why their numbers in the UAE are increasing,” he said adding that the government is setting up programmes to train workers so that they can get employment in skilled and semi-skilled jobs.

On his first visit to the Emirates, he also took part in the third Middle East Conference of the Non-Resident Nepali Association (NRNA), held in Dubai over the weekend, which discussed issues facing the community in the region and around the world.

“At present, Nepal faces the challenge of unemployment and

the government is keen to

improve the economy. We were

assured all co-operation from

the UAE government. We will now prepare a detailed study on which sectors the two nations could co-operate,” he added.