PRESS RELEASE | MFA Releases First Case Analysis Report, “Crying Out for Justice: Wage
Theft Against Migrant Workers during COVID-19”

For immediate release
12 April 2021
Last 07 April 2021, Migrant Forum in Asia (MFA) launched the analysis report, “Crying Out for
Justice: Wage Theft Against Migrant Workers during COVID-19” as part of the Justice for Wage
Theft campaign, that document cases of wage theft from the period of November 2019 to January
2021. The Justice for Wage Theft campaign was launched by a large coalition of trade unions and
civil society organizations in 01 June 2020, calling for an urgent justice mechanism for migrant
workers repatriated due to COVID-19 without being paid their due wages, salaries, and end-ofservice benefits.
Dasharathi Barik, an Indian migrant worker who experienced wage theft after being terminated from
his job in Saudi Arabia in early 2020, spoke during the launch to call on stakeholders to help him and
hundreds of his colleagues in the same situation address the wage theft that they have experienced.
He stated, “We have been trying to file our case for the past 6-7 months but there has been no
response from the Indian Embassy. We will not be able to file a case after one year in Saudi court.
We request all of you to support us file a case to get the money we worked hard for.”
Barik further shared that finding a new job has been extremely difficult amid the worsening COVID19 situation, after he failed to pursue two job opportunities in the UAE. “We are all poor, we have to
send our children to school and find a means to feed our family.”
Following Barik’s appeal, William Gois, Regional Coordinator of MFA, emphasizes, "It is people like
Barik who are suffering the most during this pandemic. The study we have done highlights how
universal the issue of wage theft is ... how systemic this problem is."
This is echoed as well by one of the reactors, Neill Wilkins, Head of Migrant Workers Programme of
the Institute for Human Rights and Business (IHRB). Wilkins emphasized that the issue is globally
systemic including among companies and employers. “These practices have become deeply
embedded in global supply chains, so much that it has become a normal part of doing business.
Employers are able to get away with this because workers from impoverished backgrounds are
unable to say no.”
MFA presented the various forms of scenarios in which wage theft occurs apart from non-payment of
wages such as through failure to pay on time, unpaid overtime, and reduced wages. Anna Engblom,
Chief Technical Advisor of the International Labour Organization (ILO) TRIANGLE, Bangkok, pointed
out as indicated in ILO’s studies that, “migrants have to regularly accept wages that are below
minimum wage and systemically being paid less than what local workers are being paid for in the
same job.” Engblom reiterates that the COVID-19 pandemic has worsened the issue of wage theft

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