BY MOBIN PANDIT
DOHA: Court cases filed by desperate foreign workers against shady companies involved in the money-spinning illegal visa trade are on the rise, says a prominent lawyer.
The plaintiffs are basically people who have paid thousands of riyals to ‘procure’ work visas, but driven desperate by their persistent failure to land jobs here, they resort to legal action.
“More and more desperate workers who ‘bought’ visas but have no jobs are making their way to the court,” lawyer, Yusuf Al Zaman, told this newspaper yesterday.
They are demanding salary arrears from the companies that have ‘sold’ them the visas since under Qatar’s labour law a foreign worker must be paid wages regularly and provided accommodation by his sponsor. “The law is quite clear: A foreign worker is the responsibility of the company that has sponsored him,” Al Zaman said.
The racketeering companies are falling in a trap of their own making. They are being made to pay the price for being on the wrong side of the law.
“You bring a worker and do not provide him job, whereas, the visa was issued to you on the condition that you have job on hand… The worker tries to get employment but fails. He has paid you so much money, so he turns desperate and eventually knocks at the door of the judiciary. The law is on his side.”
The judiciary goes strictly by the law and orders an erring company to pay wage arrears and other outstanding dues to the worker — the plaintiff, according to Al Zaman.
There are many such cases in courts and the number has been on an upswing. The cases additionally involve violations of the labour law and residency rules. And the companies that provide jobs to such workers are also taken to task as per the law.
The authorities are now seriously cracking down on the illicit visa trade, and this, coupled with the rising number of court cases, is tightening screws on visa issuance procedures, said the lawyer.
A company must not be issued work visas unless its credentials are fully ascertained and the authorities are hundred percent sure it genuinely requires workers, he said.
The recruitment department of the Ministry of Labor has, meanwhile, put the onus of checking the illegal work visa menace on the inspection department.
“When a company applies for visas we conduct thorough checks and only when we are very, very sure that it needs the visas do we issue them,” said the director of the Recruitment Department, Fawaz Al Rais.