Push and Pull factors are two very crucial concepts of labour migration. Push factors are those factors that force the labours to move voluntarily. There are many cases where the labours are forced. Some of the major reasons for push factor are drought, famine, conflict, extreme religious activities and others. On the other hand, the factors of the country that attracts the labours to stay are called the pull factors. The push and pull factors regarding the Nepali labours are discussed below.
Most people across the world know that the FIFA World Cup of 2022 is going to take place in Qatar. For a country like Qatar, this is going to be a huge achievement to organize a mega-event like FIFA Football World Cup. Qatar does not yet have sufficient infrastructure to host a football world cup, so the country is taking preparations to build necessary infrastructure and systems for managing the successful organization of the mega event. Preparations are now in full wing however, the great improvements come at a fatal price (Dorsey, 2014). Labourers are being brought to Qatar for a variety of purposes, but in particular to build necessary infrastructure like stadiums, training grounds, and hotels. The Qatar Government should arrange all the necessary arrangements for these workers, like their daily needs, their wages, their safety measures and others. However, in reality, the situation is a lot different from the expected condition: Qatar does not want skilled labours, it just wants people who will work for wages to build the stadia (Pattisson 2013). Nepalese and other labours being brought to Qatar are not well treated. They are not paid properly, do not receive all the facilities, and their passport are held so that they do not go back to their nations before the completion of the work.
The focus of this study is to analyze and evaluate various aspects of the Nepalese Labour Migration to Qatar, which is building the infrastructure for the 2022 Qatar FIFA World Cup. Qatar has the highest percentage of migrant workers in the world. Among the total workforce in Qatar, more than 90% of workers are migrants; among all these migrant workers, 40% are Nepalese workers (reference). In order to meet its construction targets, Qatar will recruit up to 1.5 million more labours for the purpose of building stadiums, grounds, roads, airports, hotels and associated tourism infrastructure. It has been estimated that Qatar is going to spend $100 billion on various infrastructure projects for the successful completion of 2022 FIFA World Cup (Crocombe 2014).
In this regard, the International Labour Organization (ILO) has a significant role to play. The main role of ILO is to set minimum standards in different aspects of labour migration. Some of the states follow those standards; and some of them do not follow. There are some major objectives of ILO like to ensure minimum wages for the workers, to provide them better working conditions and others. In case of Qatar, the ILO has advocated for effective rules and regulations to ensure the wages, health, safety and better working condition of Nepalese and other migrant workers. However, it can be seen that the various recruitment agencies of Qatar do not adhere to these rules and regulations. While the ILO encourages compliance with its standards, the Nepalese Embassy in Qatar has the task of ensuring the fair treatment of Nepalese workers. There are however several instances when Nepalese workers came to the embassy with their complaints and the embassy took no action (dohanews.co 2017). This shows the ineffectiveness of the Nepal embassy in Qatar (ilo.org 2017). There are instances where the government of Qatar has embarrassed the official of Nepalese Embassy in order to make sure there is no disruption to the flow of labour coming from Nepal. In the year of 2013, 191 Nepalese labours died in Qatar; and in the year 2012, 169 Nepalese labours died in Qatar as per the information of Nepal Government. However, from diplomatic sources, it was known that the Qatary government harassed the officers of the embassy to keep these deaths as secret (ituc-csi.org 2016).
The main aim of this chapter is to analyze the different kinds of government rules and regulations regarding the labour migration from Nepal. A short history of Nepalese labour migration is useful as background to the current trends.
Trans-Himalayan links between Nepal, India, China and Tibet is the origin of modern labour migration from Nepal. In the time span of 1700s to 1800s, Nepal had a healthy business relation with countries to its North and South. People from Nepal used to go to the Tibet and other areas for the purpose of employment. At that time span of 1700s to 1800s, there were more Nepali in Tibet more than the Tibetan (when?). Those Nepalese includes both men and women and they used to go there for various job purposes.
Push and pull factors are two of the most important components of migration. Pull factors in migrant employment are those that attract the human resources by offering them opportunities. On the other hand, push factors in migrant employment are those that force people to migrate from one place to another to get better opportunities. This push and pull theory is applicable in the case of labour migration from Nepal to Qatar. There are certain specific factors in Nepal that responsible for push and pull in migration of labours from Nepal. One of such factor is the decrease in income of the Nepalese due to rainfall shocks. It is the fact that Nepal is a country that vastly depends on agriculture (De Bel-Air 2014) and it can be said that the income of the Nepalese have been dropped drastically by the decrease in rainfall. The deviation in rainfall over two decades has become a major push factor for the Nepalese. The deviation in rainfall affects the income of the households of Nepal. It has been seen over the years that there is an unexpected drop for rainfall in Nepal. As the rainfall is correlated with agriculture, the opportunity of income from agriculture has become less. This is the reason they become interested in going abroad for higher income. This is a major push factor of Nepal.
The decrease in income of the Nepalese leads to poverty that is considered as another push reason for labour migration. Due to poverty, people of Nepal want to move to the places where they can get better income opportunities. Unemployment is thus another push factor for labour migration in Nepal. Due to the poor employment prospects in Nepal, the young Nepalese become interested in the job opportunities in the foreign countries.
Another major push factors in this regard is the Maoist insurgence (Roper and Barria 2014). Due to the ban on the activities of the Maoists, they have carried out their activities in the remote hilly areas of Nepal. This party is forcing the people of Nepal to join their party and to carry on the activities of the party. This is the reason; the Nepalese want to go to foreign countries to save their lives and to get better employment opportunities. The birth of Maoist was in the year of 1996 when The Communist Party of Nepal started People’s War in order to destroy constitutional monarchy and to establish People’s Republic. From that onwards, the Maoist activity was increased in Nepal. The philosophy of the Maoists is to adopt revolutionary methods on order to achieve people’s demand. The Maoists strongly follow the philosophy of Mao Zedong who believed that political power grows out of the barrel of a gun. Apart from this, there are some activities all over the world from where the Maoists take inspiration; they are the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement, the left wing guerrilla movement of Peru that is the Sendero Luminoso and from radical communist parties all over the world. There are some specific reasons for the banning of Maoist activities. First, the Maoist activities are unlawful. Most of the activities of the Maoists are against the government. This is one of the major reasons for that lead to the ban of Maoists activities. In addition, they use weapons to show their protest. This is another crucial reason for the ban of Maoist activities.
Another important factor that is pushing the people of Nepal to go for better job opportunities is the recent earthquake that hit Nepal on April 25, 2015. Due to this earthquake, Nepal has faced severe economic losses from a decline in tourism revenue (reliefweb.int 2017). The agricultural and tourism industry of the country were vastly affected by this earthquake. It can be said that the economic condition of Nepal was destructed. This earthquake almost killed one-third population of Nepal. In addition, the rebuilding cost is going to be almost $5 billion. This cost has made the Nepal economy slower. Due to no getting any job opportunities, the people of Nepal is going abroad tom earn money (Whitney and Agrawal 2016). The earthquake has created fear in the minds of tourists; and this reason contributes to the decrease in the number of tourists in Nepal. This aspect is hampering the revenue of Nepal that comes from tourism.
Hence, it can be seen that there are many reasons that affecting the job and business opportunity of Nepal. At the same time, Qatar is providing good job opportunity along with good pay structure for the Nepalese. Hence, the Nepalese are attracted towards Qatar. Apart from these push factors there are some domestic factors that forces the Nepalese to stay in Nepal, with tourism the major one in this case (Gardner, Pessoa and Harkness 2014).
An important pull factor is the worldwide demand of labours. It has been seen that there are specific countries having a high demand of labours like Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Oman and others. Low population is a reason of this, as they cannot meet the demand of labours for various purposes. This reason attracts the Nepalese to get job in foreign countries for high earning.
Some major pull factors are attracting the Nepalese towards Qatar. First, the Nepalese can get the opportunity to earn more by working in Qatar. Hence, getting high income is the major pull factor of Qatar that is attracting the Nepalese to Qatar. Another important pull factor of Qatar is the qualification. Qatar does not want highly qualified labours from Nepal; they just need workers for various job purposes like construction and others. This is an important reason that attracts Nepalese towards Qatar as the less qualified labours can apply for jobs in Qatar.
Another pull factor in respect of Qatar is the amount of money they are offering to the migrant workers of Nepal. It is a fact that the money value is high in Qatar than Nepal. The value of one Qatari Riyal is equals to 29.2787 Nepalese rupees (exchangerates.org.uk 2017). On the other hand, the huge demand of workers in Qatar is attracting the people of Nepal in Qatar. This is a major pull factor in the point of view of Qatar (ituc-csi.org 2017). Hence, it can be understood the Nepali labours can earn huge amount of money that they can use to make their life better; like they can buy properties for them, they can build home for them, they can start their own business, or even they can invest in agriculture and others.
The government of Nepal has many rules and regulations regarding the migration of its labours. It has been seen that the largest portion of the Nepalese migrant labour force travels to the United Arab Emirates, mostly to Qatar (Gardner et al. 2013). The rules and regulations governing labour migration from Nepal as a whole and in regards to Qatar are discussed below.
Nepal has three government agencies and one subsidiary center to devise the rules and regulations affecting labour migration.
Nepal’s previous Ministry of Labour transportation and Migration (MLTM) formed all the rules, regulations and policies regarding labour migration. The responsibility of implementing all these rules and regulations rest with the Department of Foreign Employment (DoFE). The monitoring of all aspects of labour migration is the responsibility of the Foreign Employment Promotion Board (FEPB). The Migration Resource Center (MRC) is meant to provide assistance to migrant workers at the time of any kind of emergency. As per the rules and regulations of the government of Nepal, its workers can travel to 108 countries to work. Among these Nepal has bilateral agreements with Qatar, Bahrain, UAE, Japan and South Korea (reference). A main policy guides the various aspects of labour migration in Nepal is the Foreign Employment Act 2007.
The Foreign Employment Act 2007 outlines which agencies are responsible for the development and implementation of various kinds of policies and regulations in Nepal. One of the aims of this policy is that it provides licenses to the labour recruitment agencies that operate in Nepal (Pessoa, Harkness and Gardner 2014). As per the Foreign Employment Act 2007, there are some basic rules and regulations in operation. This rule suggests that a welfare fund must be created through contributions of the migrant labours. For this purpose, each worker needs to contribute NPR 1000 ($13 AUD) for the making of this fund. A Foreign Employment Promotion Board (FEPB) must also be created. As per the policies, a minimum wage must be paid to all workers, along with pre-departure training and a development program for the migrant labours. This program is meant to be free for women.
As per the various rules and regulations, penalties exist for any kind of cheating or fraud in recruiting foreign employment. In the case of recruiting for foreign employment without a license, a penalty of NPR 300,000 to NPR 500,000 can be imposed, in addition to imprisonment of up to three years (Ghimire and Upreti 2012). These policies and regulations specify some countries for the purpose of foreign employment. On the other hand, as per the Foreign Employment Act 2007, there must be some rules and regulations regarding the safety of the workers. As per the rules and regulations, there must be a fair contract between the workers and the foreign employers. There must be approval before passports and visas are issued. Most importantly, they recruiters must use the Nepal airport in order to send the employees to foreign (Bruslé 2012).
In recent years, some new developments in the rules and regulations concerning labour migration in Nepal have taken place. In May 2012, the government of Nepal is working with the receiving countries in order to set a minimum amount of wages for the Nepali labours in some specific countries like Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, UAE and Qatar. In April 2012, the Nepal government has appointed many employees in their various government bodies of labour migration. These are the main rules and regulations regarding the labour migration in Nepal. However, it can be seen that there are some major loopholes in these rules and regulation. India has been excluded from Nepal’s Foreign Employment Act 2007 (Sapkota 2013). In addition, domestic women workers have also been excluded from this act. There are several cases where the foreign employers seized or deposited the passports of the employees so that they cannot come back to Nepal before the completion of the work. There are also no procedures for getting employment receipts. Migrant workers sometimes have to pay high service charges, and some foreign employers do not allow the migrant workers to come back to Nepal after the completion of employment agreement. Essentially the government of Nepal does not properly manage the welfare of these migrant employees. These are the major loopholes in the migrant employment policies of Nepal (Ratha, Yi and Yousefi 2015).
An agreement was signed between Nepal and Qatar on 21 April 2005 for sending migrant labours to Qatar. The aim of the agreement was to strengthen the relationship between these two countries by supplying Nepali workers to Qatar for employment. As per the agreement, the Nepal government will supply migrant employees to Qatar and this process will be based on all kinds of legal activities (Tuladhar, Sapkota and Adhikari 2014). As per the demand of the policy, all the terms and conditions of this employment process will be mentioned in the employment agreement. On a more precise note, the basic condition of employment along with the rights and obligations of both the parties need to be written in the agreement in three languages: Nepali, Arabic and English (Paoletti et al. 2014). It was also mentioned in that agreement that the contract will expire after the completion of the employment period. There are to be four copies of the employment agreement and each party related with the employment will obtain one copy. The responsibility of the authentication of the employment agreement will lie on the hands of Qatar’s Ministry of Civil Service Affairs and Housing and the Nepali Embassy in Doha. As per the remittance agreement among these two nations, the Nepali workers can remit their money to their families in Nepal (Kern and Müller-Böker 2015).
In the case of settlement of disputes, if any kind of disturbance or dispute arises in the employment process or employment agreement, Qatar’s Ministry of Civil Service Affairs and Housing and the Nepali Embassy in Doha are to resolve the matter. If the matter is not solved, the judicial authority of Qatar is to resolve the issue. Another important aspect of this agreement is the process of monitoring. As per the rules and regulation, Qatar’s Ministry of Civil Service Affairs and Housing will be responsible for the purpose of monitoring and implementation various rules and regulation (Shrestha, M., 2016). In case of the agreement period, as per the rules and regulation, the employer must notify the employee about the expiry of the employment agreement at least before 30 days. These are the main rules and regulations between Qatar and Nepal related to the migration of labours. However, it has been seen that despite the existence of these rules and regulation, Qatar is breaking these rules and forcing Nepalese employees to work beyond their employment agreement, and beyond the employment conditions (Bajracharya and Sijapati 2012).
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