Airline companies send back migrant workers from airport without any ‘valid reasons’As incidents of workers being deprived of flying by airline companies become frequent, the foreign employment department writes to Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation.
Airline companies have been sending back migrant workers from Tribhuvan International Airport without giving reasons for not allowing them to board flights.
According to Bhishma Kumar Bhusal, director general at the Department of Foreign Employment, incidents where migrant workers, despite possessing all the required documents and air tickets, have been barred from flying has been increasing recently.
“Workers have been stopped randomly even in the past. They would send workers back from the airport,” Bhusal told the Post. “This time the problem surfaced after workers started visiting the department regularly with their grievances.”
The department has expressed its concerns over the matter in which airlines have been haphazardly not allowing Nepali migrant workers, who have met all the requirements and paid for the tickets, from flying. Workers going on foreign employment following the legal process and route cannot be stopped by an airline company without any valid reason, according to Bhusal.
“Some workers have visited the department crying, as they could not fly out to their jobs. Nor would the airline companies tell them why they were stopped,” said Bhusal. “Work permits given to migrant workers are the final approval that allow them to go on foreign employment. The work permit is given only after everything is checked by the government agencies and the worker is qualified to go.”
Following the frequent incidents of workers not allowed to leave, the department has written to the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation, informing it about the ongoing situation.
The letter, a copy of which is seen by the Post, states that airline operators have been denying workers boarding passes from the customer service division of the airport, without even informing the labour section of the department posted at the airport or consulting the department.
Such random acts of not giving boarding passes have not only added unnecessary problem to the workers but also led to a monetary loss. And the department has said workers must be given valid reasons in writing if they are not allowed to board a flight.
According to Barun Ghimire, a human rights lawyer and programme manager at the Law and Policy Forum for Social Justice, an organisation that works on migrant rights issues, such acts of airline companies are simply an act of outright discriminations.
“It’s not that only government bodies are not allowed to discriminate, everyone, even public service providers like airline companies, cannot show such discriminatory attitude,” said Ghimire. “Those workers who were not allowed to board the flight can legally claim compensation and the department should help them with it.”
According to Ghimire, airline companies can only stop passengers if they are suffering from some airborne and communicable diseases or if they violate their company policy.
“Airlines only have contractual obligations of carrying passengers to their destination countries. They cannot simply prohibit anyone from flying without any valid reasons or they should stop selling tickets” said Ghimire. “They cannot discriminate against a group of people like this. Someday, they might say we will not fly Dalits or other groups, which is unacceptable.”