KATHMANDU, March 4: More than 100 Nepalis who arrived in Dubai of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for employment have been left high and dry as their employers have not paid their salaries for months.
Ramesh Basyal of Gurbhakot-8, Mehalkuna, Surkhet, said that the company has not paid them for the past eight months. “It's been eight months of waiting,” he told Republica on Wednesday. “Despite requesting multiple times, the company has not paid us.”
Basyal complained that the staffers of the Embassy of Nepal in the UAE did not help them even though he tried to give information to the embassy. “When we reached the Nepali Embassy in Abu Dhabi with our concerns, the staff did not allow us to wait in line saying that there was a problem due to COVID-19,” he said.
Basyal said he cannot travel to Abu Dhabi from Dubai time and again. According to him, they are forced to pay a fine of up to Rs 25,000 for their visas have expired or cancelled as the companies they were working for refused to extend the visas. “I have four days left before my visa expires,” he said in a phone interview. He said that he has been earning a living by taking loans from his friends as he has not been paid for eight months. He said that his monthly salary was DHS 2,002 (about Rs 70,000).
Basyal, who has been working at the same restaurant for seven years, had recently moved to Dubai before the COVID-19 pandemic broke out. “There were no problems with work and wages before COVID-19," he said. If there is no support from all the agencies, the workers will be hit harder. The restaurant has been open on and off since the pandemic started.
At a virtual interaction organized by the National Network on Safe Migration and People's Forum on Wednesday, labor expert and advocate Som Luitel said various studies had shown that the number of job losses, wage cuts and other financial assistance due to the COVID-19 pandemic had reached 36 percent.
Before the outbreak of COVID-19, the problem of foreign employment and non-payment of wages was about 25 percent. So far, nobody has conducted an in-depth study on the impact of COVID-19 on the wages of Nepalis in foreign employment.
Stakeholders have demanded that special initiatives should be taken by the diplomatic missions, civil society and government bodies as it would be difficult for the victims to raise their voices alone in the destination country.