By Conrad Egbert
Death of Nepali worker highlights labour-camp conflicts and forces contractors to rethink their housing practices.
Contractor Arabtec has promised it will shift its Nepali workers to a separate labour camp in Al Quoz by the end of this week.
The move follows the tragic death of a 24-year-old Nepali worker, who was beaten to death in a massive fight that broke out between a group of Nepali and Indian labourers at their labour camp in Jebel Ali on 3rd November 2005.
“Our company has promised us that they will shift us to a separate labour camp in Al Quoz,” said Chitra Thapa Magar, one of the workers at the company.
“They promised us that we would be given a separate labour camp that would house only Nepalis. They said it would take from between a week to a month to organise it.”
The incident that the police say is still under investigation has raised questions about contractors forcing nationals of different countries to live together in their labour camps.
“The company has shifted the Nepali men to another labour camp in Sonapur. We felt that this was the best thing to do,” said Chandra Prasad Sapkota, a Nepali social worker in the country, who is overseeing the case.
Sapkota claimed the practice of housing labourers from different countries in the same camps sometimes created problems.
And he claimed that the practice of mixing workers from different countries in the same accommodation was often a deliberate ploy to ensure their compliance and reduce the potential for strikes or other industrial action.
He said: “Workers of different nationalities are actually clubbed together intentionally by companies as a psychological strategy to increase efficiency and control.
“For example, if a group of different nationals are living together in one group, they will be more likely to follow rules and regulations than a single-nationality group, because there will be a lack of trust among them which [in turn] is good for the company.
He added: “The chances of one national telling on the other are quite high and that prevents them from trusting one another which makes them think twice before breaking any rule or regulation.”