Because we are non-Arabs, many of us Nigerians (and other Africans too) that are resident in Qatar are not aware of our rights as foreign workers, especially with most employment documents being in Arabic. Also, the fact that workers can not congregate or collectively contest against their companies is not helping the matter. However, the truth is that expatriate workers are actually protected by Qatari laws as far as their employment contract is concerned.
Recently, a young Nigerian man came to me to narrate how he wrested himself from the hands of an exploitative boss! (The boss is also an expatriate by the way.)
The man said he was recruited, through a middleman, (who also happened to be a Nigerian), directly from Nigeria almost a year ago for a construction company owned by some Indians.
Apparently being a novice and non-Arabic speaker, he was deceived into signing a contract in Arabic, which he would later realised contained lesser monthly salary to what was agreed upon before he left Nigeria.
To cut the long story short, he narrated how his so-called boss announced to him and two other colleagues one afternoon that they would be going back to Nigeria early next day. He said the news puzzled them as they were not in any way aware they’d be living so soon and that they believed the company was owning them some pay because apart from the first month salary of QR2,500 which they received in full, they had received less (between QR2000-1,500) for subsequent months.
Well, he was smart enough to dodge being ‘deported’ by the boss, who succeeded in sending the other two colleagues to Nigeria. The case eventually reached Qatar’s National Human Rights Committee (NHRC) where justice was served. Although, the boss tried to lie against him that he absconded when the NHRC first contacted him (this is a popular gimmick some mushroom companies are using to get rid of workers after exploiting them).
While the young man was unable to get any pay off in terms of the balance from reduced salaries he was being paid by the company (that was because of the contract he was coerced to sign on arriving here), ‘the boss’ was shamed and was ordered by the NHRC to release the man by providing him with No Objection Certificate (NOC).
NOC enables foreign workers to switch jobs and transfer to other sponsors.
Why I am sharing this story is to educate many people out there that in case of any dispute with your employers, the best thing to do is to walk straight to the NHRC. They are very helpful and will always listen to anyone with genuine case. You should not allow the employer to lie against you that you abscond.