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Migrant workers’ contribution: Where is the Government?

Nitish Lal Shrestha

August 16, 2021

6 MIN READ

Migrant workers’ contribution: Where is the Government?
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KATHMANDU: The debate regarding migrant workers’ contributions to the country and the government’s treatment of them continues.

In a previous article, we covered the government’s degrading and insulting treatment of these workers; in this article, we will look into a specific place where migrant laborers are exploited, and the government, as usual, remains mute – the issue of airline tickets.

Nepal exports its labor more prominently to Gulf countries. Nepali individuals move to the Gulf countries for basic employment and incomes, due to unemployment at home and lack of adequate level of education, often following the rumors that they will have a better life there.

Qatar, Dubai, UAE, and other countries are among them. Migrant workers are frequently the victims of manpower agency’s fraud, as well as misbehavior at several steps such as approval, airport security, and so on.

Apart from that, migrant workers are exploited by airlines and travel firms, which I believe only a minority of the population is aware of. This is the scope of this article.

A standard airline ticket, a one-way ticket from Nepal to Doha, used to cost roughly NRS. 25,000 during the normal situation. However, as a result of the lockdown enforced in the aftermath of Covid-19, the average cost of a flight ticket has skyrocketed from NRS. 60,000 to NRS. 70,000.

One interesting question that arises in this situation is whether the airline companies are still interested in regular flights and returning to normal flight fares. In the current situation, airlines companies are generating triple revenue, equivalent to three tickets from a single ticket.

It was understandable when the planes were chartered, but now that regular flights have resumed, the price increases of these flights do not seem to make sense.

When compared to European flight fares, a one-way ticket to Europe is cheaper than a one-way ticket to Doha. A one-way trip from Nepal to Europe via Doha currently costs only around NRS. 55,000 on average. Nepal and Doha are separated by 3,240 kilometers, while Nepal and Europe are separated by 7,637 kilometers.

Looking at the cost of a ticket to Doha, it appears that airlines and travel agencies are taking advantage of the current situation and profiting to the greatest extent by exploiting migrant labor.

Regardless of normal flights, these migrant workers must pay more than double the cost in the past to travel to their work destination country. It is important to note that the major portion of migrant workers come from poor families and live in poverty.

Taking advantage of Covid-19 to exploit them in this way is simply immoral and inhumane. Should not the responsible government agency look into this?

One interesting question that arises in this situation is whether the airline companies are still interested in regular flights and returning to normal flight fares. In the current situation, airlines companies are generating triple revenue, equivalent to three tickets from a single ticket.

This appears to be a lucrative business and an opportunity for them, while the underprivileged and common citizens suffer the most.

Even though we are tired of being optimistic in the past  that these matters will be addressed, let us hope that the new government is in charge  will address these weaknesses and that migrant workers will not be exploited by anyone, anymore.

The government, however, seems to have remained silent on the subject, certainly cannot assume that they are unaware of this situation.

The government entity in charge of migrant workers, the Ministry of Labor, Employment, and Social Security have yet to address this issue. It seems that the majority of the public is unaware of this reality. This is something we should explore because the current status is extremely unjust for migrant workers.

Interestingly, every year, we see government leaders happily emphasizing the increase in remittance revenues. The Minister of Labor frequently claims that they have appealed to and made efforts in other nations to open vacancies for Nepali workers.

Also Read, Migrant Workers’ Contribution vs. Government Behavior

However, on the contrary, it is disappointing that they remain indifferent and do little when it comes to the challenges and injustices that these workers have to experience.

There are around 500,000 Nepali workers in Doha, 700,000 in Malaysia, 200,000 in the United Arab Emirates, and similar numbers in other countries. Notwithstanding the fact that the number of migrant workers is increasing, no one, not even the government, is responding to their concerns.

Finally, even though we are tired of being optimistic in the past  that these matters will be addressed, let us hope that the new government is in charge  will address these weaknesses and that migrant workers will not be exploited by anyone, anymore.

Hope that the new Government will make all the policies, procedures, and  other dealings related to migrant workers simpler and convenient, and treat them with due respect which they deserve.

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