A considerable number of Nepalese workers in Qatar have affirmed that the negative reports published recently in a section of the international media about their conditions are “unfair and exaggerated”.
Gulf Times this week visited a few work sites and labour accommodations and spoke to many Nepalese workers of different categories.
Most drivers at Karwa accommodations expressed their satisfaction about the upgraded facilities which include recreation halls.
“Our salaries are paid on time and we enjoy a work environment of respect. We got the same job and pay we were promised when we were recruited back home,” said Panam Lama, a Nepalese driver.
Most Nepalese workers interviewed at the QP Financial District site said their salaries were paid regularly and they were treated in a “dignified manner”. They get a paid leave of around 45 days with a return-ticket to their home country once in two years.
Gilles Rolland, project director of Bouygues Batiment International, which carries out the work at the site, said that reports about the mistreatment of Nepalese workers in Qatar were highly exaggerated.
“We are doing our best to be up to the international reputation of our company, maintaining the highest health and safety standards on work sites besides an ethical environment,” he said.
A Mowasalat official said that quality meals were offered at reduced prices of around QR5 to QR6, including drinking water and a beverage. The menu is changed daily to cater to employees from 23 nationalities.
“There are two groceries, a barber’s shop, and a laundry which offer services at a monthly rate of QR35 for each driver,” said Fatima al-Julandani, head of administration, General Services Department, Mowasalat.
On every floor of each three-storey housing unit, there is a TV and entertainment hall and another multi-purpose room, where drivers could enjoy their free time.
There are green spaces outside and a gymnasium with an entry fee of QR1 fee per day in addition to a sauna and Jacuzzi room. A project is underway to establish two cinema halls. The entry fee will be just QR1.
“A dedicated health facility is expected to be ready by the second half of next year,” said Dr Emad Bahloul, Mowasalat physician.
“The company clinic sees around 40-70 people a day besides conducting routine health check-ups. We ensure that sick drivers are given proper medical attention and sick leave when needed,” he said.
Driver Lama pointed out that some companies promised a certain salary and job but when the worker came here he found himself in another position with a lower salary.
“For example, some were recruited as waiters but ended up working as labourers in difficult conditions.”
Some recruitment companies in Nepal charge workers around QR3,000 to QR6,000 to get them a work contract in Qatar. Some workers are unable to read or write the language in which the contract is written, often English, and sign it based on the recommendations of local recruitment agencies.
Many Nepalese drivers are eager to get a pay hike as daily expenses eat up a large part of their savings. A number of them work under the “rent the taxi” system where they have to give QR265 daily to the company. There are occasions when they are unable to make this sum and end up paying from their previous earnings.
“I would prefer to work for a fixed monthly salary than this but this is how my contract is made,” said Bahadol.
Karwa officials explained the system was intended to encourage drivers to work hard and give them a good opportunity to earn more. Page 16
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