Exercise of Due Diligence
On Wage Theft
in the Midst of a Pandemic
The swift and massive shock of the COVID-19 pandemic and shutdown measures to contain it have plunged the
global economy into a severe contraction.
The World Bank forecasts say, the global economy will shrink by 5.2% this year.
In its June 2020 Global Economic Prospects, the bank reports that in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC)
countries, Jordan and Lebanon – where there are around 35 million international migrants – the GDP forecast
ratings are taking a dizzying dive between minus 4.5 to minus 3.5 percentage.
This translates that, when the economy comes to a halt, it would be the migrant workers who will be badly hit.
Laying off migrant workers and forcing them to resign has already become a new normal due to COVID-19 led
economic crisis.
While, International Labour Organisation forecast that the Middle East is going to witness 5 million job loss,
citing ground reports, Migrant Forum in Asia partners confirm that 1000s of migrant workers are being
subjected to wage theft and benefit cuts in the GCC countries.
And unfortunately, the migrant workers who are hastily repatriated either by companies in chartered flights or
by both countries of origin and destinations are being subjected to wage theft.
They also suffer the lack of a transitional justice mechanism to find a solution to their grievances.
At the time of registration for repatriation of Indians, our partners have found that the Indian embassies are not
recording grievances of migrant workers including wage theft, end of service benefits, and secure power of
attorney from the returning migrant worker for further pursuance of their case.

“We are just recording the
only reason for Indians leaving
the country. We are neither
addressing the workers’ rights
violations nor taking any
power of attorney”
Senior Indian Embassy Official
in Kuwait

“We are recording only
information asked and
provided by the Indian in the
repatriation form”
Senior MEA official in New
Delhi

The repatriation form, an online Google document form, reviewed by the MFA reveals that, out of the nine
checkboxes listed down asking the reason for repatriation to India, there is only one checkbox probing whether
the migrant worker is being laid off or not.
The option reads, “Migrant worker/labourer who has been laid off.”

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