Lok Tiwari, is the Senior Vice-President of NRN USA. Tiwari is a settled and successful businessman from Maryland, USA. He has been actively involved in a lot of social works in different parts of the USA and Nepal, with many American and Nepalese social organizations. Up yet now, he has travelled to Qatar over dozen times carrying on his business endeavors. Here is an interview with Tiwari focusing on Qatar’s; infrastructure development, migrant-worker situation, and condition of labor rights.
1. What is the present infrastructure development scenario in Qatar?
- Qatar is the virgin part of earth. It has embarked on a rapid construction of modern facilities and infrastructure. Development activities are currently on track and happening at very fast rate.
2. What is the situation of Nepalese migrant-worker in Qatar?
- Talking about the worker situation as a whole, Qatari population is merely represented by three hundred thousand workers, whereas the major workforces are the expats from many South-Asian nations, including Nepal. Currently, nineteen hundred thousand migrant-workers from different countries are stationed at many companies in Qatar, of which five hundred thousand workers are from Nepal. Nepalese workers face the similar problems as any other migrant-workers. There is a clear difference in American way of life and Asian way of life, so undoubtedly there will be contradictions when we compare the working conditions. If a worker’s job involves him working outdoors, he will most definitely have to deal with the harsh hot climatic condition. Although, at the peak day hours between 12 to 3pm they have breaks. Mostly works are scheduled in morning and evening hours. The companies hiring the workers generally provide them hostels, along with food and travel facilities.
3. News of Nepalese workers dying due to hard working condition under harsh sun is on rise, what is the truth?
- Not only in Qatar, but also in USA or Japan, sadly people do lose their lives on their jobs. But important thing is to know the actual reason for cause of death. Of total five hundred thousand Nepalese workers, some of them might have died due to natural causes, also sometimes accidents may have happened on the work sites. But we cannot blame their deaths solely on their choice of country for work. On the construction job’s, safety is the most important priority. Qatar too has high safety standards on construction sites. But sometimes misfortunes do strike and claim a human life, even though all measures of safety are put into action.
4. Do Nepalese workers face any abuse or exploitation from their employees?
- Nepal’s Labor Ministry has an active law that clearly states, they will issue work visas to expat’s who can put in daily eight hours of work and four hours of overtime. Nepal’s government and manpower agencies have view that Nepalese should work more so they can send more money back home. Workers in Qatar do ten hours of daily work. This mainly depends on the contract between worker and his company. Not all companies are bad. Qatar government’s labor department is very active and strict in its policies. Any migrant-worker who feel’s abused or exploited or is not happy with their company, can complaint to the labor department. Labor department is vigilant, and it quickly and very seriously responds to the complaints against any company, and even takes legal action by blacklisting the guilty company, and that company can no longer bring any new workers. If any Nepali worker is being abused or is not receiving the agreed upon salary from the company or is not being paid on time, they can file an official complaint to the labor department against the company. It is ensured that within 24 hours of complaint, Qatari government will take a hard action against the company. If they are hesitant to go to labor department themselves, they can take the help of NRN organization in Qatar or any other social organization, who are always ready to help workers and protect their rights. Most important thing is that, workers must be aware of their rights.
5. News about harmful housing and food conditions faced by Nepalese workers keep emerging, what is the real truth behind this?
- Local authorities are vigilant about the housing and food conditions, and they do regular inspections. They have set rules regarding the guidelines for the hygiene; Qatar follows policies of American health standard. If the local authorities find any worker not following their guidelines they initially issue tickets, and if serious hazard is seen lawful action is taken. But then too there are workers who don’t believe in personal hygiene. It is one’s own duty to clean and maintain hygiene of place one lives in. If workers don’t flush the toilet after use, government is not going to flush it for them. They have to themselves, clean the dishes they eat in, wash the clothes they wear. Workers after a long hard day of work may be tried to do these chores, but this should not be their excuse of staying unhygienic and dirty.
6. What will you suggest to the Nepalese who are considering Qatar for their work destination?
- The beauty of Qatar is that; if someone wants to go there for work, it does not cost them a penny. The plane tickets and other costs are undertaken by Qatar. The climate of Qatar lies on a hot scale, so the workers must beforehand check if they are working outdoors or indoors. Dehydration is very common due to high temperature conditions, thus one must be aware to keep themselves hydrated by drinking ample amount of water to stay healthy. As it’s a known fact viruses and diseases spread easily in the hot weather condition, workers must pay attention to their personal hygiene and cleanliness of their surroundings to stay safe. Nepal government or the manpower agencies must train the workers with essential skills before they go to Qatar.
7. A lot of controversies are surrounding the Qatar World Cup 2022, what is your view on Qatar as the host of World Cup?
- If we look at Qatar’s GDP, it is one of the highest in the world. Government does not impose taxes upon its citizens, and even the unemployment benefit is nine thousand dollars. Lot of infrastructure is to be constructed. Infrastructure, including a new airport, roads, hotels and stadiums are being constructed at such a high pace, every next month I visit Qatar, it looks changed. Not only Qatar, but all of Gulf-nations are highly interested in football. The whole of gulf is supporting Qatar, and there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that it will host the World Cup 2022 very beautifully and successfully.