Without work and salary, Nepali migrants protest in Covid-hit UAENearly 500 workers have been confined to their apartments while the company has not paid them anything for the last two months.
Chandan Kumar Mandal
Hundreds of Nepali migrant workers have gone on strike in the United Arab Emirates as their employers have not paid them salaries for the last two months.
Nearly 500 workers, employed at an oil and gas company in Ruwais of Abu Dhabi, have stopped going to work, protesting against their employer for not giving them work and not clearing their dues.
[Read: He lost his job and wanted to come home. The lockdown killed him.]
According to the agitated workers, most of them have been confined to their apartment for the last two months without work while the company has not paid them anything for the period.
In a video streamed live on Facebook, workers are seen protesting on the premises of their quarters and stopping others from going to work.
“We have not let anyone go to work. Workers here are compelled to do this because we have not been paid for the last two months,” said the Nepali worker who streamed the video. “Our voices and our situation should reach the Nepal government.”
Another agitated Nepali worker also says he was not given work and had to spend two months in his room. “Either they should give us our dues for the time we have been kept off work or the Nepal government should take us back,” said the worker. “We are ready to return home.”
“They have not given us the salary for the last two months. I would rather return home,” said another worker. “What’s the use of staying back and sleeping here?”
Nepali workers protesting against their employers, having been left without jobs and food in unsafe accommodations, has become a common sight in all the major labour destinations. The situation has worsened since the Covid-19 pandemic hit these countries where tens of thousands of Nepalis have been living and working.
After these countries have come under the grip of Covid-19 pandemic, a large number of Nepali workers have gone without jobs, food and proper accommodation as they wait to return home since their employers have shirked from their responsibility amid the global pandemic.
According to Kul Prasad Karki, chairperson of the Pravasi Nepali Coordination Committee, an NGO working for the welfare of migrant workers, the number of migrants languishing without work and basic needs has increased unprecedentedly in recent weeks.
“Workers are going without jobs and struggle to make their ends meet. They have started panicking since the government has not responded effectively,” Karki told the Post. “The government has only said they would bring the workers back, but there is no concrete plan yet. Due to this uncertainty, even workers with good incomes have started resigning and are waiting to return home.”
The government has said stranded Nepali workers would be brought home based on their vulnerability. However, the government has not given any timeline and rising Covid-19 cases will only delay the repatriation process further.
“The government could have at least coordinated with various Nepali groups and organisations in those countries to help Nepali workers in problem,” said Karki. “Such conflict among workers and employers will rise in the coming days, troubling the relation between them and also between the labour sending and receiving countries.”