Strike for higher pay lands Nepali workers in Qatar jail | world | Hindustan Times
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Strike for higher pay lands Nepali workers in Qatar jail

world Updated: Jun 12, 2007 15:13 IST

Hundreds of Nepali workers who went on strike demanding higher pay in Qatar have been put behind bars as strikes are banned in the oil-rich Islamic state.

The workers, who had been sent to capital city Doha to work for the Al-Huda Engineering Works, went on strike last month, media reports said here.

After they went on strike demanding a raise in their monthly salary - which amounted to 500 riyal - as well as insurance, they were arrested and jailed.

While some managed to escape, others were deported to Nepal, Nepal's foreign ministry said.

However, according to media reports, there are still hundreds of blue-collar workers in Qatar's prisons.

Besides Malaysia and Saudi Arabia, Qatar is one of the biggest destinations for unskilled labour from Nepal.

However, despite thousands of Nepali working abroad, the manpower sector in the Himalayan kingdom is one of the least disorganised and plagued by corruption and fraud.

Workers seeking jobs abroad are duped by the hundred by unscrupulous recruitment agencies that bait them with lucrative job offers.

After the workers spend huge amounts of money in order to obtain a passport and go abroad, they find salaries half of what had been promised and working conditions miserable.

There is a mushrooming racket in luring workers to the Middle East and then sending them to dangerous destinations like Iraq and Afghanistan that have been banned by the Nepal government.

About three years ago, 12 Nepali workers were kidnapped by a militant group in Iraq and beheaded, triggering arson and violent protests in Nepal.

Grinding poverty, lack of employment opportunities and a decade-old communist insurgency that ended last year have been instrumental in compelling thousands of Nepalis to seek livelihood and a better way of life abroad every year.