Migrant workers denied gratuity and leave pay
KATHMANDU, SEP 10 -
After working for two years in Qatar, when Sudarshan Sapkota of Mahadevsthan in Kavre prepared to return home, he was deprived of gratuity and leave pay, a basic right of a migrant worker .
The company denied his several requests saying it had no provision of ‘gratuity and leave pay’. Sapkota, who is engaged in farming in his village now, says he was not the only person to have been shorn of the perks. His relative Maheswor Nepal narrated a similar incident. “All the company provided before my journey home is salary and plane ticket. The accountant asked me to sign a paper in Arabic. I suppose he gobbled the money up,” said Nepal.
Besides the wage, the Qatari labour law clearly asks employers to pay annual gratuity and leave pay, among other perks, to migrant worker s. However, a huge number of workers are denied it.
Many workers devoid of the grant approach the Nepali embassy for support while numerous others do not even know such provision exists.
“I have got neither gratuity nor leave pay for 18 years. Many companies do not talk about them,” said Dharma Raj Shrestha. He guesses the company owes him Rs 300,000.
According to the Qatari labour law, workers deserve 21-day pays in basic salary each for leave and gratuity. Workers serving for a minimum of two years are eligible for the grants.
A driver by profession, Laxmi Lama of Dhanusa said his company gave him such grants only for the initial four years. “The company has not paid for leave and gratuity for the past three years. It’s injustice to people like us who are toiling day and night for money,” said Lama, during his visit to the Nepal embassy in Qatar.
Lama’s friends Chitra Bahadur Thapa of Nuwakot, Narayan Dangi of Rolpa and Prem Gurung of Pokhara were also requesting embassy officials to help them get the money.
According to Gurung, the company returned five of his friends, including Tika Ram Ghimire, Milan Thapa and Rajan Adhikari, without the payments. Even Nepali employers curtail such facilities to workers by resorting to threats. Some are cheated by means of fake contract letters.
Not all companies are mean. Rebat Poudel of Ramechhap said he had received 22,600 dirham under the two headings after serving for 13 years.
At an interaction organised by the Qatar chapter of Non-resident Nepali (NRN) Association on July 13, the duped workers shared their plight with Som Lal Subedi, secretary at the Nepali Ministry of Labour and Employment.
“Many workers are compelled to return giving up such entitlements or are unaware of the provisions. The embassy should sensitise workers and help them out,” read the NRN Qatar manifesto. The labour agreement requires companies to give a copy of contract letter to workers. The letter clearly asks the employer to provide workers with free health facilities, travel cost, accommodation and gratuity and leave pay.
Posted on: 2012-09-10 08:26