Kathmandu, March 12

The government is preparing to ink labour agreements with two Gulf nations — Kuwait and United Arab Emirates (UAE) — that have been hosting thousands of Nepali migrant workers annually.

Bhuwan Prasad Acharya, director general of the Department of Foreign Employment (DoFE), informed that draft papers have been prepared to seal labour agreements with the aforementioned two countries and revisit the labour agreement with Qatar.

“We have forwarded the draft of the labour agreements with these three Gulf nations to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA), which will forward the papers to the government of the three countries,” informed Acharya, adding that labour agreements with these countries will be inked after governments of the respective countries approve the draft.

While the government is mulling to sign new labour agreements with Kuwait and UAE, such agreement with Qatar is being reviewed in accordance with the recent changes in policies related to migrant workers adopted by the Qatar government.

As per government statistics, 26,818 Nepali migrant workers obtained work permits for jobs in UAE in the first half of 2017-18, while 45,115 Nepalis took work permit to work in Qatar during the same period.

While there is no definite data on the number of Nepali migrants working in Kuwait, DoFE officials say the country has become one of the popular labour destinations and is hosting ‘thousands’ of Nepalis.

Acharya informed that drafts of the labour agreements with these nations basically focus on ensuring safety of Nepali migrant workers working in these nations.

The draft papers feature minimum and maximum working hours for Nepalis in these nations, minimum wages, insurance and health facilities, among others.

“Nepali workers have been facing many problems regarding treatment by the companies employing Nepalis in terms of wages and security. However, the government had been unable to facilitate migrant workers due to the lack of labour agreements with these countries,” said Acharya.

Meanwhile, Acharya informed that separate labour agreements would be signed with the governments of these nations for household Nepali migrant workers and general migrant workers.

Nepal has so far signed labour agreements with South Korea, Bahrain, Qatar, Japan and Jordan. Such agreement with Jordan was inked in October last year.

Meanwhile, recruiting agencies have welcomed the government’s plan to ink labour agreements with new nations. “Labour agreement with a nation ensures that migrant workers are safe and treated better in the working nation. The government should ink such pacts with all the popular labour destinations among Nepali workers,” said Rohan Gurung, president of Nepal Association of Foreign Employment Agencies.