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Saudi Arabia steps in to aid Indian workers as V.K. Singh arrives in Riyadh

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The Saudi Arabian government has “taken serious note” of violation of labour laws by a construction company resulting in financial crisis for thousands of Indian workers, Minister of State for External Affairs V.K. Singh said on Wednesday.

Singh, who reached Saudi Arabia early on Wednesday in the wake of reports that Indian workers in the Gulf kingdom were facing a financial and food crisis, said that he had a “very good meeting” with Saudi Minister of Labour and Social Development Mufrej Al Haqbani.

“We discussed all the issues related to Indian workers,” Singh said in a statement following the meeting in Riyadh.

“It was brought out that the problem is because of one company which has not provided the humanitarian facilities as per the law of the land,” he said.

“The Government of KSA (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia) has taken serious note of this lapse and has taken immediate action to ensure all camps where Indian workers were staying are provided facilities like medical, food, hygiene and sanitation.”

Singh said that the Saudi government was also providing free passage to all those Indian workers wishing to go back home.

“They will also honour the claims filed by workers against the companies which have defaulted their payments,” Singh stated.

“They have agreed to allow transfer to any other company within Saudi Arabia.”

He said the Indian embassy was also preparing lists for workers for filing claims and of those who wanted to go back to India and thanked the Saudi government “for very positive action and magnanimous attitude exhibited”.

Saudi Ambassador to India Saud Bin Mohammed Al Saty told IANS in New Delhi that his country’s authorities have taken serious note of the lapse on the part of this one company.

“This company that has violated Saudi labour laws will be fined,” he said.

“The Indian nationals working In Saudi Arabia are very much appreciated by Saudi society and government for their contribution to the development of the country and their respect for the laws of the land,” Al Saty said, adding that relations between his country and India continue to be excellent.

He said that companies which violate laws meant for protection of workers’ rights would be dealt with strongly.

Earlier on Wednesday, a senior official of the Gulf kingdom’s labour ministry held a meeting with India’s Consul General in Jeddah.

“Director General of Branch of Ministry of Labour and Social Development in Makkah region, Abdullah Al-Olayan, held here today a meeting with Consul General of India in Jeddah, Mohammad Noor Rahman Sheikh and his companions to discuss the situation of Indian labourers affected due to their delayed salaries in one of the big companies in the governorate of Jeddah,” the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported.

SPA said Al-Olayan explained that the ministry was currently providing facilities for 2,500 affected Indian workers in Jeddah, allowing them to transfer their sponsorships, and granting them re-entry visas.

On Tuesday, giving a breakup of the figures, External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup said 4,072 workers belonging to construction company Saudi Oger in Riyadh were being provided shelter in 10 camps: nine in Riyadh and one in Damman.

“In addition, there are 2,153 Indian workers belonging to Saudi Oger in six camps in Jeddah all of whom have been provided food by the Indian consulate,” Swarup said.

There are over three million expatriate Indians in Saudi Arabia, most of whom are blue collar workers.

 

——IAns

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