Govt to review labour agreement with Qatar

Kathmandu, October 30

Considering the increasing number of complaints related to problems being faced by Nepali migrant workers in Qatar, the government has started homework to review the 13-year-old bilateral labour agreement with the Gulf nation.

The Ministry of Labour, Employment and Social Security (MoLESS) has said it has finalised the schedule to hold two meetings on the issue between Nepal and Qatar in near future.

“Complaints have been frequently filed with the government regarding various problems that Nepali migrants have to face in Qatar, hence we decided to hold talks with the concerned Qatari authorities to solve issues related to human rights, security, benefits and wages,” said Minister for Labour, Employment and Social Security Gokarna Bista.

As per the ministry's schedule, a Qatari government delegation will come to Nepal on November 6-7 to hold discussions on issues raised by migrant workers. Likewise, a Nepali delegation will travel to Qatar to hold talks on November 19-20.

A joint committee including representatives from both the countries will be formed to review the pact. The review meeting will be held alternately in Nepal and Qatar.

“We are going to review the bilateral labour pact and amend certain provisions to make it more contextual,” Bista stated. Nepal and Qatar had signed a labour agreement on March 21, 2005, in Doha.

Both the countries have held discussions on many occasions to review the pact and last year too a five-member delegation led by the joint secretary of the Labour Ministry of Qatar had visited Nepal to hold talks to review the labour pact.

According to Minister Bista, the meetings that will be held in November will finalise the content of the pact and later seal a technical agreement. The agreement will authorise the responsible authorities of both the countries to oversee labour related issues and resolve them as per spirit of the agreement.

Qatar has recently emerged as the most popular destination for Nepali migrant workers after the government halted labour supply to Malaysia. Most Nepali workers going to Qatar are unskilled and involved in manual works in construction sector. Only a few are working in service sector like petrol pumps, hotels, restaurants and shopping malls.

Meanwhile, Minister Bista has said that the government will also look into problems being faced by migrants in other labour destinations and sign agreements with countries with which Nepal does not have a bilateral labour agreement. He also mentioned that existing labour pacts made with some countries will be reviewed.

“Foreign employment sector can be made secure and well managed only if we are able to sign bilateral labour agreements with all major labour destinations,” Bista stated.