The latest report of the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) says that the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has seriously abused the rights of migrant workers. There are several other countries like Iraq, Qatar, Korea, and Malaysia where Nepali youths have felt the pinch. According to the Department of Labour and Employment Promotion statistics, there are 60,000 Nepali youths in the UAE alone sweating it out at construction sites and as cleaners and maids. However, the UAE’s announcement of a new law allowing the formation of trade unions by 2006-end is likely to pave the way for foreign workers to join unions and fight for their rights. It can help address their grievances like non-payment of wages, extended working hours without the provision of overtime and unsafe working environment that can result in death and grievous injury.
The new democratic government, it is hoped, will ensure that unsuspecting youths are not cheated anymore either by unscrupulous manpower agencies at home or exploited by foreign employers of dubious integrity. There is an urgent need to ink and implement bilateral commitments so that workers are not exploited. Nepalis should be encouraged to go abroad in the absence of opportunities back home. But the government must formulate effective laws to plug the loopholes through which Nepalis can be duped. Record maintenance of those seeking foreign employment and making job contracts obligatory with clauses of life insurance, healthy policy and other benefits can go a long way in guaranteeing safer working environment abroad.