PORTERS AND GUIDES WORKING POLICY
"Guides and Porters need equal rights as other employees and Travelers. They need to enjoy their job and get the equal rights as other employees and travelers"
There are several companies who treaty Porters as "Beasts of Luggage"
Carrying heavy luggage, paid very little, and not paid in time.
We are asking our clients to observe this and report any Porter's abuse to us and we will take legal action against any staff or client who exploit our Porter or assist in doing so.
These are among the problems that Porters face on the mountain or any trekking areas:
(i) Over carrying of luggage
(ii) Low wages and not paid in time
(iii) Very poor gears
(iv) Poor food or not given during the trek
(v) Lack of Insurance
(vi) Lack of education on first aid and how to avoid climatical harzards
(vii) Porters deaths on the mountains.
These are the most guidelines and frequently asked questions on Porters policy:
Q.1 How much should porters carry?
The load varies per location and the type of trek. Loads should be weighed before the trek starts. As a trekker, we ask you to this opportunity to get to know the porters and to make sure they are properly dressed and have the appropriate equipment.
Current legal limits range between 15-25kg maximum. The weight of the load should consider the following:
- Legal limits to prevent excessively heavy loads
- Difficulty and duration of the trek
- The porter's physical ability.
In Peru, there is a legal limit to protect porters from being forced to carry excessively heavy loads. According to the Porter's Law No. 27607, adult male porters should only carry up to 25 kg (including personal allowance) while adult female and adolescent porters should only carry up to 20 kg (including personal allowance). Adherence to the Porter's Law No. 27607 and the subsequent regulations is another matter. Porter protection groups have observed that weighing stations are few and ground agencies often find their way around the law, it was suggested that UK operators conduct frequent checks on their ground agents.
In the Himalayan region of Nepal, porters should not carry a load that exceeds 25 kg (including personal allowance) above 4000m and no more than 30 kg below 4000m (including personal allowance).
Porters climbing Kilimanjaro, Mt. Kenya and Ruwenzory should carry a maximum of 20kg including their own gear. Porters have taken to carrying heavier loads for more pay; this practice should be discouraged because it is unsafe and displaces those not willing to take the risk.
Q.2 What are the minimum requirements to be a porter?
Porters should be at least 18 years old and should pass a health check before becoming a porter. At present, there are no formal systems in place (with the exception of Peru) to ensure candidates undergo a health check before undertaking porter's work.
In Peru, a medical exam has become necessary to be able to work as a porter. Under new regulations, Peruvian porters must produce a certificate from the Ministry of Health to work.
In Nepal, most porters are farmers between 30 to 50 years old looking to supplement their income. They are judged fit to work as porters by physical appearance alone.
While in East Africa, experience in climbing seems to be the only criteria to becoming a porter.
Q. 3 How much wages should porters be paid?
Providing fair compensation for porters is essential to fostering an ethical and sustainable trekking tourism sector. It has been emphasized by porter protection groups on the ground that Tour operators should encourage their Partners to observe human rights by not exploiting the Porters.
After food, shelter and gear expenses are met; it is recommended that Peruvian porters receive 120 soles for a four-day trek on the Inca trail. Transportation costs to and from the start of the trail and additional costs such as entrance fees to the Inca trail to Macchu Picchu should also be covered and not taken out of the porter's wages.
In the Himalayas, it is recommended that Nepalese porters have financial assistance from the start to the finish of the treks (i.e. return local bus fares and 100NR per day food allowance). The trekking operator should ensure that the basic trekker day wage for a porter is 500 NR, food allowance included. The basic wage will increase at altitude as above 3500m (600 NR), 4000M (700 NR). There should be bonus arrangements on days of major festivals at the discretion of the General Manager.
The recommended wage for porters in East Africa range from five to 15 US$ a day; after food and travel expenses are covered. Some tour operators pay more for English speakers.
Q.4. How should tips be distributed?
Tips should be distributed openly and with explanation.
Tips can also be divided on the evening of the last dinner while on the Mountain.
Lottery can also be held to give the team other presents such as clothes etc.
Q.5 what welfare provisions should porters be given?
Sick and injured porters should be given the same standard of treatment and rescue as clients. It is recommended that porters receive full insurance, sickness and disability pay. No porters should be dismissed without pay because of illness. During the course of a trek it is the duty of the head Sherpa and trek leader to look after the health of its porters and clients.
Responsible staff members (under the direction of the trek leader, who should have funds to cover emergencies) should escort porters down to safety. The trek leader should also be qualified to provide first aid care. The clients should be alerted to the situation and informed that the sick porter is being helped down.
Q.6: What training should porters be given?
Porters should be given training in First Aid, Health and Safety issues, including the symptoms of altitude sickness, management of emergencies and general health and hygiene. In East Africa we strongly recommend that reproductive health education (HIV/AIDS/STI) should be included in the orientation and training as increasing number of porters and guides have succumbed to AIDS in East Africa. Training in the English language, knowledge of local flora and fauna and history is also recommended.
Q.7: What equipment should porters be provided with?
Porters must have adequate shelter at night and under no circumstances be left outside. Porters will be provided with appropriate warm, windproof trek suit, boots, socks, gloves, hat, snow goggles and blanket. This equipment will be issued when required and collected when no longer needed to ensure there is no loss. Porters can be made responsible for clothing and equipment loaned to them. Toilet tents should also be provided for porters.
Q. 8: Who should provide this and how?
All Tour operators should be responsible for ensuring that we supply equipment at the destinations and allocate the funds. Loan schemes - where equipment is checked in and out and re-used, has been suggested.
Q.9. How can we monitor and evaluate to ensure that good and fair practices are implemented in reality?
The level of involvement and presence of the Union in the actual treks and within the portering communities determines its ability to monitor the treatment of its porters. Implementation of good and fair practices requires developing and maintaining close working relationships with ground agents.
Ensuring fair treatment of porters also means listening to the porters and allowing them to name the concerns. Allow them to give both oral verbal information.
The client also plays an important role in assisting to ensure fair practices are implemented in reality. Being aware of porters' rights and fair working conditions is the first step.
Q.10 How can channels of communication be improved to help the implementation of good practices?
We should foster strong communication lines among the Porters and their ground agents' result in closer monitoring of activities in regards to porter's rights and working conditions. There is also importance of personal involvement in the daily operations of the treks and within the portering communities to ensure fair treatment of porters and their communities.
Here are some suggested by advocacy groups on the ground:
- Encourage client feedback through post-trek questionnaires to gain insight of both positive and negative practices. Encourage client pressure for positive changes
- Include porters in decision-making processes
- Consult with porters, porter protection groups and local agents
- Encourage forums that allow porters' concerns and issues to come to the surface by supporting porters unions and conferences.