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Thursday, June 1, 2023

Unemployed, Nepali delivery workers in UAE wait for help

Janak Chamling Rai never imagined that after months of being unemployed in a distant land, he would one day be a migrant worker waiting to be rescued.

So did Sandip Dhimal, Roshan Dangal, Roshan Sitaula, Dinesh Majhi and Bishal Singh Thakuri.

They said that while Rai, Dhimal, Sitaula and Majhi were sent to the United Arab Emirates by Baba Human Resources Management to work as delivery workers, Dangal and Thakuri were recruited by Link International Placement Services.

About a year ago, the six went to the United Arab Emirates, one of Nepal’s main labor destinations.

According to workers, they paid recruitment agencies between Rs 250,000 and Rs 315,000 each for the job.

The amount is 30 times what current regulations allow recruitment agencies to charge Nepali workers for Malaysia, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Bahrain and Oman.

this Visa-free and ticket-free A policy implemented by the Nepalese government in July 2015 was supposed to require employers in the seven countries to bear the costs of visa processing and airfare to hire workers from Nepal.

Although migrant workers have to bear the costs of pre-departure orientation training, health checks and migrant worker welfare funds as per the policy, they have to pay a service fee of Rs 10,000 to the recruitment agency if the employer refuses to cover the costs.

However, nearly eight years after its launch, it is largely stay on paper.

“I paid Rs 310,500 and I managed the money through a loan with an interest rate of 24% to 36%,” said Rai from Dorpachiuridada village, Diktel Rupakot Majuwagadhi Municipality-7, Khotang. “I paid a sub-agent 50,000 rupees and the rest went to Baba Human Resource Management in their Kathmandu office.”

Current regulations also make Unlawful Recruitment agencies hire sub-agents.

Rai claimed the agency did not allow workers to be photographed after paying hefty fees, threatening them to cancel the labor immigration process.

The migrants said they paid in hopes of earning around 100,000 rupiah a month in the UAE. “We were promised a monthly salary of Dh3,000 (roughly Rs. 107,000), but we were out of work for several months,” they said.

“They told us we would get our driving license within two months of arriving in the UAE, but it actually took about six months,” said Sitaula, from Japadamak.

“After arriving in the UAE, we were unemployed for six months,” said Dhimal from Urlabari, Morang district. “It took us a while to realize that the jobs we were hired for were only commission-based jobs.”

Rai’s signed offer letter with Uplift Delivery Services mentions that his monthly salary will be commission based or a fixed AED 3,000, depending on the job offer.

According to the letter, his monthly salary has been broken down into basic salary of Dh1,050, Dh300 and Dh200, housing allowance and food allowance.

Apart from this, the letter also mentions that Rai will receive a monthly fixed overtime pay of Dh500, Dh650 in other allowances and Dh300 in fuel costs.

But Rai said he turned down the job after realizing it was an entirely commission-based job.

“I have been out of work for over a year and have been living in Abu Dhabi with friends,” Rai added. “If I had a passport, I could have found other jobs.”

The workers said they underwent medical checks shortly after arriving in the UAE but were not issued passports.

Dhimal and other workers did work for several months after getting their permits, but the income was not even enough to cover their food and accommodation.

Also, they have to pay for fuel when delivering.

According to Dhimal, they worked for food delivery app Talabat delivering food from restaurants before they were fired for not having insurance.

“In the past, we charged a commission of Dh7.5 per delivery,” Dhimal said.

The Department of Foreign Employment, the government agency responsible for overseeing labor immigration, recently decided Temporarily stop Recruitment agencies have given prior approval to send cyclists and taxi drivers to Qatar and Dubai amid growing complaints about issues such as obtaining driving licenses, unemployment, unpaid wages, traffic accidents and fines involving Nepali workers.

Krishna Prasad Bhusal, information officer at the Ministry of Foreign Employment, told The Post in a recent interview that there has been an increase in complaints from Dubai in recent days.

A group of 160 migrant workers in Qatar, dozens of whom have been working exclusively for food delivery service Talabat, have reportedly had their wages stolen and in some cases left unpaid for up to eight months fair squarea nonprofit human rights research and advocacy organization, recently.

According to FairSquare, “Talabat’s parent company is the German company Delivery Hero”.

Baba Human Resource Management manager Sambhu Gautam has denied all allegations made by the migrant workers.

“We sent a lot of workers, but there were also some who filed charges against us after they lost interest in the job,” Gautam said. “The problem arises because they can’t work effectively in the delivery work.”

Gautam claims some of the workers they send out earn up to Dh4,200 a month. “However, it is clear that lazy workers and those working in areas with fewer delivery orders are not making much money.”

Although Gautam claims that the recruitment agencies have representatives in the UAE – who can always listen to workers’ grievances – workers argue that their concerns have been deaf to them.

“They kept ignoring our calls,” Dhimal said.

The workers wanted to be rescued, but representatives of the human resources agency demanded that they pay at least Dh4,000 each to get their passports back, they said.

“They said it was half of what they spent on our visas and licenses when we were hired and they had to get that money back,” Sitaula said. “Some workers who could afford the money have gone home, but we’ve been out of work for months, how can we afford to pay so much?”

According to Gautam, it costs Dh7,000 per worker to obtain a driver’s license. “It is paid in installments from the wages of the workers,” Gautam said. “But some workers didn’t even come to work.”

“There have also been cases of Nepalese workers fleeing to Romania or other European countries after obtaining their driving licenses in the UAE,” Gautam added.

Rajan Paudel, information officer at the Foreign Employment Commission, a government agency responsible for the welfare of migrant workers in Nepal, said that if workers are not hired, they must first apply to the Ministry of Foreign Employment through their family members in the country under the contract and want to be rescued.

“The Ministry of Foreign Employment then asked the relevant recruitment agencies to rescue the workers and compensate them,” Podle said. “However, if a worker’s labor permit has expired and he is stranded in the destination country without any support from the recruitment agency, then that person will have to visit the Nepalese embassy, ​​which has a labor attache Investigate this.”

“The individual will then be housed in a refuge in the country of destination and flown home by the Foreign Employment Council,” Paudel added.

However, the workers said they had tried to seek help from the Nepalese embassy in Abu Dhabi, but to no avail.

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