Qatar’s Struggle to Reform Labor Laws

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On March 22, the International Labor Organization (ILO) moved to give Qatar until November to reform its laws governing migrant labor. This builds on an ongoing investigation following a complaint lodged with the ILO in 2016 that workers are drawn into “forced labor.” The ILO will determine if Qatar’s labor laws contravene the forced labor convention, which Qatar ratified in 1998, possibly subjecting the Gulf state to scrutiny by a commission of inquiry.

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Domestic flights

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In early 2004, Sushila Karki Pyakurel was on her way to Israel to work as a caretaker when she met a government official in Bangkok, en route to South Korea, for a sports programme. As soon as the man realised that she was headed for the Middle East all by herself, he asked her to return home immediately. The region was dangerous, he said, and he was willing to pay for her flight back home.

Sushila thought about the offer. She had already had qualms about the idea of working in a distant country. For months she had debated whether it was wise to leave behind her three-year-old son in order to take care of an unknown elderly in Israel. Continue reading

Never heard from again

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Hundreds of Nepali migrant workers never return home, not even in coffins. They simply disappear.

There are plenty of stories about the high mortality rate of Nepali workers abroad, or migrants being cheated by recruiters. Less well known is the fact that many Nepalis simply disappear while working abroad.

The Gulf countries and Malaysia have become a black hole for hundreds of migrant workers who have vanished without trace over the years. Their families are helpless, and do not know whether their loved ones are dead or alive. The government is of no help.

Since it started monitoring in 2009 the Foreign Employment Promotion Board has records of 5,000 Nepalis who have died abroad. But it does not have numbers for the missing. Continue reading

Photo Essay: Migrant Workers in Jordan’s Garment Industry

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South Asian migrant workers in a garment factory in Jordan. Photo by Sabrina Toppa.

Over the past twenty years, Jordan has emerged as a critical node in the global apparel supply chain, which in Jordan employs more than 60,000 workers. Almost 70 percent of the kingdom’s garment employees are female foreign workers from South Asian countries like Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Nepal. Yet while the kingdom offers comparatively favorable labor laws for the region, many of these migrant workers are still legally and economically vulnerable. Continue reading

Migrating from traditional roles

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People move from one country to the other primarily for better economic opportunities. No doubt it is not an easy option to leave your family and head for a destination where you have to work like machines and go through excessive mental stress.

Official figures show that a total of 5.4 million Pakistani workers went overseas for employment from 2003 to 2015. Around 97 per cent of these went to Gulf Corporation Council (GCC) countries including Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Qatar. The contributions of these labour migrants are highlighted from time to time and the foreign remittances they send home are termed to be a lifeline for the country’s economy. During the year 2015-2016, Pakistani expatriates sent foreign remittances worth $19.9 billion which is not small a figure. Continue reading

Ensure safe, orderly and regular migration

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Migrants workers are not slaves. They are human beings too, and have rights to survive with dignity like others in the world”, Dulal of Bangladesh said to me, while returning from Qatar recently. In Doha, Qatar to report on the plights of migrant workers, I met and talked to some of the ill-fated migrant workers of Bangladesh, they were returning Bangladesh empty handed. Dulal of Chittagong was one of them. His father paid Taka six hundred thousand to a middleman to send him to Qatar for what was purported to be a well-paid job. The broker arranged for a one-month’s VISA (In the name of free VISA) for Dulal from Dhaka, and urged him to go to Qatar, promising that the work visa would be extended for three years once he was there. At the end of the month however there was not only no extension, but the broken disappeared. Dulal never saw the broker again in Qatar and even the broker refused to answer his desperate calls. Continue reading

Skilled Vs. Unskilled Workers And Sri Lanka’s Migrant Labour Problem

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Sending qualified nurses to the US is among the steps Sri Lanka is taking to ensure its mirgant labour force is made up of more skilled workers. Image courtesy

The Government recently passed a regulation further tightening the current selection criteria imposed on women seeking foreign employment. According to the Government, the motive here is to discourage women from seeking foreign employment as domestic workers or caregivers. Alternatively, the Government is promoting more professionals to seek foreign employment through a Government controlled system. Even with these restrictions, the Sri Lankan labour migration sector is still the number one industry bringing in the highest amount of foreign revenue to the country. Continue reading

Rethinking labour migration

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Pakistan has long been a major exporter of human resource, primarily to the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries including Saudi Arabia, UAE and Qatar, and receives substantial foreign remittances sent by the expatriates every year. Opportunities opened up for Pakistani workers in the Gulf region soon after the boom in the oil sector and the development that followed in 1970s.

Data shows that this export of human resource continues. From 2003 to 2015, a total of 5.4 million Pakistani workers went overseas for employment, of which around 97 percent headed to the GCC region. During FY2015-2016, the foreign remittances sent by overseas Pakistanis were around $19.9 billion, which close to what was earned through exports of goods and services from the country. The highest share comes obviously from those working in Saudi Arabia and the UAE as these countries host nearly 93 percent of all Pakistani workers who have gone abroad for work. Continue reading

Legal deadline problems for migrants workers (Nepali)

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हदम्यादको झमेला

वैदेशिक रोजगार ऐन तथा नियमावली र व्यवसायीको आफ्नै नियमका कारण कैयौं कामदारहरू आफूले पाउनुपर्ने क्षतिपूर्ति तथा आर्थिक सहायताबाट वञ्चित भएका छन् । वैदेशिक रोजगारीमा जाने बेला जानकारी नदिइने त्यस्ता थरीथरीका हदम्यादले कामदारहरू झुक्किने गरेका छन् ।

वैदेशिक रोजगारीमा जाँदा कामदारलाई समस्या परे कुन निकायमा उजुरी/निवेदन दिने र त्यसको हदम्याद कति हुन्छ भन्ने जानकारी भने दिने गरिएको छैन । वैदेशिक रोजगारमा जाने कामदारले अनिवार्य रूपमा दुईदिने अभिमुखीकरण तालिम लिनुपर्छ । तर यो विषयबारे कामदारलाई सूचना दिने गरेको पाइँदैन । कामदार तथा परिवार कसैलाई पनि जानकारी नदिइँदा ठूलो समस्या भोग्नुपरेको पीडितको गुनासो छ । ‘म्यानपावर कम्पनी र दलालले ल भिसा झर्‍यो, अब जाउँ भन्छन्, कर्मचारीले श्रम स्वीकृति दिन्छन् तर केही जानकारी दिँदैनन्,’ कुवेतमा मृत्यु भएका तनहुँको तनहुँचोक चिसापानीका वीरबहादुर गुरुङका जेठान महेन्द्रजंग गुरुङले कान्तिपुरसँग भने । Continue reading

Nepal’s Agenda on GFMD to be held Dhaka (Nepali)

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जीएफएमडीमा नेपालले श्रम सम्झौताको विषय उठाउने

नेपालले अगामी ‘प्रवासन र विकाससम्बन्धी विश्व मञ्च (जीएफएमडी)’ सम्मेलनमा कामदार पठाउने र मगाउने राष्ट्रबीच द्विपक्षीय सम्झौता (बीएलए) गर्नुपर्ने विषय उठाउने भएको छ । आप्रवासी कामदारले समस्या भोग्दै आए पनि तिनको समाधान हुन नसकेको भन्दै नेपालले कामदारका अधिकार सुरक्षित गर्न बीएलएमा जोड दिन लागेको हो । जीएफएमडीका लागि नेपालका ‘फोकल’ अधिकारी तथा श्रम मन्त्रालयका प्रवक्ता गोविन्दमणि भुर्तेलले वैदेशिक रोजगारलाई सुरक्षित र व्यवस्थित बनाउन कामदार पठाउने र मगाउने राष्ट्रबीच बीएलए हुनुपर्नेबारे सम्मेलनमा आवाज उठाउने बताए । उनले भने, ‘कामदार लैजान लालायित हुने तर बीएलए गर्न कन्ने प्रवृत्ति छ ।’ बीएलए बाध्यकारी, प्राविधिक समिति र समीक्षा हुने कारणले नेपालले पछिल्लो पटक एमओयूभन्दा बीएलएमा जोड दिएको छ । नेपालले कतारसँग मात्र बीएलए गरेको छ । समझदारीपत्र (एमओयू) मा बहराइन, यूएई, कोरिया (ईपीएस), जापान (प्रशिक्षार्थी कामदार) र इजरायल (केयर गिभर) सँग हस्ताक्षर भएको छ । Continue reading