New Delhi, Nov 20(UNI) India and Qatar today signed an Additional Protocol to the 1985 bilateral agreement on the Regulation of Employment of Indian Manpower between the two countries.
Minister of Overseas Indian Affairs Vayalar Ravi on behalf of India and Sultan Bin Hassan Al-Dhabit Al-Dosari, Minister of Labour and Social Affairs signed the Protocol here today.
Both sides negotiated the additional protocol to address mutual concerns regarding employment of Indian manpower in Qatar.
Speaking on the occasion, Mr Ravi said the Protocol enlarges the mandate of the Joint Committee and stipulates that the Joint Committee would meet twice a year alternately in India and Qatar. In case of premature repatriation without any fault of the worker, the Protocol provides for the payment of full wages and other entitlements under the contract and the Labour Laws for the entire un-availed period of the contract, he added.
Mr Ravi said the Protocol also provides for the welfare of Indian workers in the unorganised sector. This assumes significance given the fact a large number of expatriates work in the informal sector in Qatar and are particularly vulnerable in the absence of the protection of labour laws.
The Minister said that the Protocol is based on the principle of benefit to all the workers, the employers, the sending country and the receiving country. Both the countries are equally concerned about malpractices by intermediaries. To address this issue, the Protocol provides for appropriate steps to be taken to curb practices detrimental to the welfare of the workers, he added.
India and Qatar have been enjoying friendly bilateral relations since the beginning. Both countries share many interests and have common views on major global and regional issues, Mr Ravi said.
Giving the background of the Additional Protocol, he stated that a bilateral Agreement on the Regulation of Employment of Indian Manpower between India and Qatar was signed on April, 1985, which was one of the first bilateral agreements that India had signed for the protection and welfare of Indian workers abroad.
Mr Ravi further congratulated the Qatar Minister of Labour and Social Affairs for having swiftly undertaken necessary labour reforms to support their rapidly growing economy and enacting a new labour law to consolidate the reforms. He also thanked Dr Al-Dosari for looking after the interests of Indian workers due to which the flow of our workers to Qatar has been increasing over the years.
Qatar has drawn up huge development plans in view of its rapid economic growth and need for infrastructure development, which will create additional demand for foreign workers. The signing of the Protocol reflects the commitment of both countries to work together for mutual benefit, which will unleash further opportunities for the Qatar employers and the Indian workers.
Qatar is a popular overseas destination for the Indian emigrants.
There are about 1.5 lakh Indian workers in the country. During 2006 alone 76,324 Indian workers emigrated to Qatar on ECR passport through the Protectors of Emigrants compared to 50,222 in 2005.