Airport misery for Lankan workers in Qatar
QATAR: Some companies continue to flout Labour Department diktats by
failing to pick up their newly-recruited employees from the airport on
time, it is learnt.
Workers who arrive at the Doha airport are often received by the
representatives of their employers and transported to their
accommodation but there have been cases where the new arrivals have to
wait for over 12 hours before they are taken to their camps.
After the problem had become endemic, the Labour Department at the
Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs had issued strict warnings to
local employers to collect their workers immediately on their arrival at
the airport, failing which they would be subjected to penalties.
However, small groups of workers are still found to be "stranded" at
the airport's arrival lounge, community sources said.
A man who went to the airport a couple of days ago to collect his
daughter told Gulf Times he had found a group of over half a dozen of
Nepali workers sleeping on the bare floor of the arrival lounge.
"When I inquired, I was told that they have been waiting for over 10
hours for their sponsor or his representative to arrive. They had no
money with them.
"They had not eaten since they landed in Qatar. The men neither had
any contact number of their employer nor did they speak any language
other than their mother tongue."
In most of the cases, the workers who mostly come from Asian
countries do not carry any money with them as they have been told in
their home countries by recruiting agents that representatives of their
employers would be waiting to receive them at the Doha airport.
"So when they fail to meet a representative of their employer, they
are left in the lurch. With no money and nobody to turn to, these
workers sometimes have to spend long hours at the airport without even
drinking water," a social worker said.
"When I wanted to buy some food for a group of men found stranded at
the airport, I realised that the eateries on the premises charge
five-star rates and the items on the menu were simply out of the common
man's reach," he said. "While continuing to be strict with the
companies, the authorities can also think of opening an outlet from
where ordinary people can buy food," he suggested.
Though not common, there have been cases where Asian workers had
waited up to three days or more before they were able to contact their
Many of the workers, particularly those who come from countries like
Nepal, Thailand and Vietnam, do not speak Arabic or English. They are
also not familiar with any of the languages spoken by the major
expatriate communities in Qatar.
In one such case, a Nepali driver was able to find his sponsor with
the help of his country's embassy after he had spent 72 hours at the
airport. There have also been cases of housemaids arriving from
Indonesia, Sri Lanka and India waiting for long hours at the arrival
lounge before they are taken to their sponsor's homes.
According to sources, the problem rested with all the parties
involved in the process of recruiting foreign workers.
"Once the agents in the originating countries collected their fees
and put the workers on a Doha-bound flight, they think their
responsibilities are over," a source said.
"They sometimes even fail to provide the recruits with the contact
number of their sponsors in Qatar. They also fail to notify the
potential employers in advance about the arrival of the new employees."
According to a worker at the airport, many of the labourers who
arrive at night after eight are collected the next day.