Minister Alam to visit Qatar for labour talks

KATHMANDU: Nepal is intensifying its concern over the safety of its citizen

working abroad. For the purpose, a high-level team will visit Qatar

to talk about the safety and

rights issues of Nepali migrant workers with Qatari authorities early next month.

Minister for Labour and Transport Management (MoLTM) Mohamed Aftab Alam will head the delegation to Qatar from April 4 to 6 to talk about safety issues and new opportunities for Nepali workers, said Purna Chandra Bhattarai, joint-secretary. He will also interact with Nepali blue-collar workers to boost their morale.

As per data of the Department of Foreign Employment (DoFE), 400,000 Nepalis are working in Qatar and most of them are unskilled workers engaged in construction, manufacturing, service and agriculture sectors. However, the number will go up to over half-a-million when illegal workers will be counted. Around 25-30,000 housemaids are believed to be working in the destination illegally and thousands of illegal workers are engaged in other sectors also.

Qatar is a major destination and the ministry wants to make it a safe one, said Bhattarai adding the upcoming ministerial visit will be a milestone in this regard.

Qatar has invited Minister Alam to talks about labour related issues. “MoLTM got the invitation through the Doha-based Nepali diplomatic mission and we are setting the agenda for the visit,” he said.

According to Bhattarai, Minister Alam will talk with Qatari Labour Minister Dr Sultan bin Hassan Al Dhabit on bilateral labour issues including opening a Qatari diplomatic mission in Kathmandu.

“We will put this as a top priority,” he said. Qatar is the second-best destination after Malaysia for Nepali blue-collar jobseekers but the destination does not have a diplomatic mission — embassy or visa councillor — in Nepal.

The security of Nepali workers, work of labour attaché and implementation of new minimum

salary are other agenda of Minister Alam. Nepal’s government has revised minimum salary for Nepali workers from 650 riyals to 800 riyals in Qatar at the beginning

of this year. Meanwhile, the

visit will also target high-level talks over the problems of the undocumented Nepali migrant workers residing there.