‘In­dia work­ing to ad­dress con­cerns of work­ers abroad’

Muscat Daily - - FRONT PAGE - Mad­hu­parna Bhat­tachar­jee

The In­dian gov­ern­ment is work­ing in close co­or­di­na­tion with for­eign gov­ern­ments to ad­dress con­cerns re­lated to its work­ers

The In­dian gov­ern­ment is work­ing in close co­or­di­na­tion with for­eign gov­ern­ments to ad­dress con­cerns re­lated to em­ploy­ment and wel­fare of In­dian work­ers, Min­is­ter of State for Ex­ter­nal Af­fairs, Gen (Dr) V K Singh (retd) said at the In­dian Par­lia­ment re­cently.

He was speak­ing on the is­sue of fake em­ploy­ment agencies and cheat­ing of In­dian cit­i­zens lured to Gulf coun­tries with prom­ises of high-pay­ing jobs but end up in me­nial ones.

Gen Singh said, “Labour and Man­power Co­op­er­a­tion agree­ments/MoUs are al­ready in place with Jor­dan, Malaysia and the six Gulf coun­tries. Th­ese agree­ments/MoUs pro­vide the in­sti­tu­tional frame­work for com­pre­hen­sive dis­cus­sions and re­view of th­ese mat­ters from time to time in the pe­ri­odic meet­ings of Joint Work­ing Groups.”

On be­ing asked whether the gov­ern­ment is aware that a num­ber of fake agencies are func­tion­ing in the coun­try which send work­ers to for­eign coun­tries for em­ploy­ment where they get stuck, the min­is­ter said ‘yes’.

“The gov­ern­ment has been re­ceiv­ing from time to time com­plaints/griev­ances from emi­grants and their fam­ily mem­bers or rel­a­tives of be­ing cheated by il­le­gal agents. Such com­plaints are for­warded to con­cerned state gov­ern­ments and po­lice au­thor­i­ties urg­ing them to ap­pre­hend il­le­gal agents and pros­e­cute them on the ba­sis of com­plaints. Wher­ever re­quired such com­plaints are also re­ferred to mis­sions/posts abroad for pro­vid­ing re­lief/res­cue.”

Gen Singh pointed out that the In­dian gov­ern­ment also is­sued a Stan­dard Op­er­at­ing Pro­ce­dure on May 26, 2016, to be fol­lowed by states on re­ceipt of com­plaints. “Gov­ern­ment does not main­tain data re­lat­ing to In­dian work­ers stranded over­seas. How­ever, as and when re­quests from In­dian emi­grants in dis­tress, are re­ceived, the same are for­warded to the con­cerned Mis­sions/Posts for pro­vid­ing re­lief and repa­tri­a­tion on an on-go­ing ba­sis.”

Gen Singh said, “At least 16,980 In­dian na­tion­als stranded in strife torn coun­tries – Iraq, Libya, South Su­dan, Syria and Ye­men sought gov­ern­ment’s sup­port for var­i­ous rea­sons and 16,570 were brought back to In­dia, dur­ing the last three years.”

The de­tails of sup­port mech­a­nisms pro­vided by the gov­ern­ment for In­dian cit­i­zens lured to the Gulf coun­tries with prom­ises of high-pay­ing jobs who end up with me­nial jobs were given dur­ing the In­dian par­lia­ment ses­sion.

“The in­sti­tu­tional frame­work for sup­port and wel­fare of over­seas In­di­ans has been con­sider- ably strength­ened over the last few years. The In­dian Com­mu­nity Wel­fare Fund (ICWF), the MADAD Por­tal, e-Mi­grate sys­tem, shel­ter homes, etc are some of the im­por­tant mech­a­nisms to ex­pe­di­tiously as­sist In­dian na­tion­als abroad. Shel­ter homes for dis­tressed In­dian na­tion­als have been set up in Bahrain, Kuwait, Malaysia, Qatar, Saudi Ara­bia and UAE,” Gen Singh said.

He fur­ther said that the mis­sions in Gulf coun­tries also con­duct Open Houses on reg­u­lar ba­sis where work­ers can con­vey their griev­ances. “There is a manda­tory in­sur­ance and med­i­cal cover un­der Pravasi Bhar­tiya Bima Yo­jna for all In­dian work­ers hold­ing Emi­gra­tion Check Re­quired (ECR) Pass­port hav­ing Emi­gra­tion Clear­ance for go­ing to 18 no­ti­fied ECR coun­tries for over­seas em­ploy­ment. The Yo­jana has been strength­ened for the ben­e­fit of such work­ers.

“Com­plaints of mis­treat­ment are re­ceived, from time to time, from In­dian em­i­grant work­ers in 18 no­ti­fied ECR coun­tries re­gard­ing the vi­o­la­tion of con­trac­tual terms, ad­verse work­ing con­di­tions, wage re­lated is­sues, em- ployer-re­lated prob­lems, med­i­cal and in­sur­ance re­lated prob­lems and com­pen­sa­tion/death claims,” he said.

Im­me­di­ately on re­ceipt of such com­plaints, the same are for­warded to the con­cerned In­dian Mis­sion/Post abroad for tak­ing them up with the host gov­ern­ment au­thor­i­ties on pri­or­ity for ur­gent re­dres­sal/res­o­lu­tion within the am­bit of MoUs signed with the Gulf coun­tries. Wher­ever nec­es­sary the min­istry/mis­sion takes up the mat­ter with the re­spec­tive gov­ern­ment, he added.

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