Ministry of Labour and Human Resources is looking into the grievances of 42 Bhutanese working in Qatar against the Yarphel Overseas Recruitment Agent.

An official from overseas employment unit with the ministry said the unit received a complaint through Facebook. The candidates were sent by the agent to work with Shaqab Abele Catering Service in Qatar, which the agent said was a five star hotel. However, the reality turned out to be different.

The official said that based on the complaint, the department of employment and human resources has asked the agent to provide justification and to resolve the issues at the earliest.

“The youth wrote that they were informed they would have to work only for 8 hours. Instead, they work for 12 hours and it was not a five star hotel they had to work in,” he said. “The youth also complained that the agent had informed apart from salary they would receive tips, but they do not get tips.”

A monitoring team from ministry is also in Qatar that will look into the ground realities and investigate on the issues that will be submitted to the ministry for further action if the complaint is found genuine.

The official said that although the ministry is not sure if the complaint is from all the 42, if found genuine, the agent will have to repatriate the ones who want to return. If they wish to stay back, the agent will have to help them get other jobs in Qatar.  “We’re waiting for the officials to return with the report.”

One of the candidates Kuensel spoke to said that the offer letter said that they would have to work as a waiter in the catering service in a five star hotel, but in reality they were made to work in places out of hotel for 12 hours instead of 8 hours. “We were told that even if we have to work extra hours, it would be at the maximum for 1 or 2 hours.”

Another candidate said they were informed they would receive salary of 1,100 Qataria Riyal and will receive tips enough to meet the daily expense and will not have to even touch salary. “But it is different here and our employer informed our basic payment is 700 Riyal and 400 is overtime payment. Instead of every holiday on weekend, there is only one day holiday in a month.”

These youth left for Qatar in May this year and the contract period is for two years. They claimed the agent did not respond to their complaint. “Although the working condition is different from what we had signed in the offer letter, we are not mistreated by the employer.”

The youth said they are hoping the ministry official team who met them last Friday would investigate and help them resolve the issue. “They have asked us not to worry and that they would help us. We’re hoping we will get to hear from them at the earliest.”

In the written explanation to the labour ministry, Sonam Tobgay, chief executive officer of Yarphel overseas recruitment agent, has refuted the allegation made by the candidates.

Sonam Tobgay said that the candidates were clearly informed that they would be working at Shaqab Abela Catering Services and never told they would be working at a five star hotel during the briefing.

“Yes, I did received a complaint from the candidates and we’ve solved some of the genuine complains whenever we’ve received,” he said, as quoted in the explanation letter. “But how do I solve the complaints that are baseless?”

As for the working hours, the agent had made it clear that it would be as per the operational requirements.

On the complaint that the candidates hardly get holidays in a month, Sonam Tobgay said that when he enquired, it was found the candidates get at least three off days in a month. He has put up the complaint to Shaqab Abela management through a partner agent.

“They are looking into the complaint on a priority basis and we’re also working on this complain. Some of the candidates in other services get a week holiday as well,” he said, adding that he had already explained the nature of the work they would be doing as per the written in the offer letter. “I am following up with my partner agent and they look into complaints as a priority. The complaint is not from all 42 candidates.”

Yangchen C Rinzin