Bhutan’s embassy in Kuwait is also involved in finding out why the Bhutanese employees in Qatar have not been paid

Employment: A joint team from the labour ministry and the Royal Bhutan Embassy (RBE) in Kuwait could leave for Qatar shortly to address the issue of the unpaid Bhutanese employees.

At least 50 Bhutanese are currently working at the Quality Hyper Market in Qatar.

On May 9, one of the employees in Qatar wrote to the ministry about their problems with the company.

In the employee’s letter to the ministry it is alleged that false assurances were provided by the Bhutanese agent, Global Recruitment Overseas Employment Agent, prior to them being sent to Qatar.

The agent sent 67 Bhutanese between July 2013 to March this year. Another Bhutanese agent, Employ Bhutan Overseas Agent, sent 10 Bhutanese to Qatar, of which some are working at the Quality Hyper Market, during the same period.

The employee wrote that the company has delayed paying them their salary for two months, has refused to pay an increment after completion of their probation period and for overtime, and is not bearing medical expenses for employees as promised by both the company and the Bhutanese agent.

Issues related to food and accommodation as a result of the delay in  salary are also mentioned.

As the Global Recruitment Overseas Employment Agent is currently under suspension, the ministry is taking the responsibility to investigate the case and consider other possible placements for the Bhutanese workers in Qatar.

The ministry has requested the embassy in Kuwait to help gather more information on the issue.

One of the Bhutanese working at the Quality Hyper Market, Pema Wangchuk, said that an official from the embassy had asked for their phone number. “A few of our friends including myself have given our numbers but there was no call or any response after that,” he said.

Pema Wangchuk said that the company is aware about their comments to the Bhutanese media and fears that very soon they might have to face  consequences.

“A Bhutanese who works in the human resource department in the same company told us that the management keeps discussing our complaints to the Bhutanese media,” said Pema Wangchuk. “Soon we’ll be called and made to answer for our actions,” he added. “In worst case scenario, we might also face similar consequences like our Nepalese friends who were terminated for raising questions regarding their salaries.”

Officials from the labour ministry said that placement of youth overseas is a new initiative and corrective measures are taken as and when problems arise. They said that the ministry is also looking at strengthening certain provisions of their regulations so as to close any gaps in the rules.

They are also looking at several new initiatives such as comprehensive medical insurance policy, developing closer contacts with law enforcement agencies, embassies, consulates, and employers of the host country.  The ministry is also identifying focal persons to look after the welfare of Bhutanese workers in places where Bhutan does not have missions or embassies.

Younten Tshedup