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Saudi not interested in signing labour pact

Saudi Arabia is not interested in signing a labour agreement with Nepal.

The agreement was aimed at protecting the interest of Nepali workers in the Gulf country, according to labour secretary Suresh Man Shrestha.

The government had proposed Saudi Arabia to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Nepal to protect Nepali migrant workers in the Gulf country on the legal basis, he said, speaking at an interaction here today.

The government is still waiting for the response of the Saudi government, he said, adding that Nepal had shared a sample draft of the MoU to Saudi Arabia a couple of months ago but the Gulf country has not shown any interest.

The draft MoU categorically included some mandatory points like minimum monthly salary of $300 (Rs 30,000), one day off in a week, arrangement of community outing centre for refreshment and $10 (Rs 1000) transportation allowance for a worker who wants to go to the outing site.

According to Shrestha, a Philippino migrant worker in Saudi Arabia draws at least $400 (Rs 40,000), whereas Nepalis are getting half at present.

Nepali ambassador to Saudi Arabia Udaya Raj Pandey, on the occasion, also stressed the need of legal arrangement between the two countries to make foreign employment safer.

He also emphasised on coordination among government agencies like Ministry of Health and Population, Ministry of Labour and Employment and Ministry of Foreign Affairs to deal jointly with GCC Approved Medical Centres’ Association (GAMCA).

GAMCA is an authorised medical check-up centre for foreign job aspirants who want to go to Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries including Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.

GAMCA has approved only 12 medical centres whereas there are 305 medical centres with similar standards in Nepal. Recently, due to dispute between GAMCA and other 293 medical centres, the aspirant migrant workers are hit hard.