7/22/2020

Tharoor urges Indian missions in Gulf to record workers' wage issues during COVID-19

Tharoor urges Indian missions in Gulf to record workers'
wage issues during COVID-19
Onmanorama Staff
JULY 22, 2020 01:36 PM IST

New Delhi: Lawmaker and former Union Minister of State for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor has urged the Indian
missions in the Gulf countries to record wage grievances of Indian workers, who were forced to return home in the
wake of Covid-19 pandemic. “This is vital in addressing the wage theft issue,” he opined while addressing an online
panel discussion recently.
He promised to write to Minister of External Affairs S Jaishankar to set up a platform at the Indian missions to
record the workers' grievances, especially on the wage front.
Tharoor suggested that setting up of an escrow fund (a third-party fund) would help tackle the wage theft issue.
“Employer can deposit wages for six months in this account when the country approves VISA for a worker. This
fund can be utilised when the employer defaults on wage payment,” he said.
Tharoor said the pandemic outbreak has become an excuse for the employers in the Gulf to retrench migrant workers
without clearing their unpaid wages and end of service benefits. “Considering the limitations of mission houses,
countries of origin should put pressure on countries of destination to ensure justice for the migrant workers, and to
fight against the wage theft, civil society organizations should take a lead in organizing trade unions,” he said.
Wage theft is the practice of failing to pay workers the legally entitled wages. It affects millions of Asian migrant
workers.
Arab countries employ around 35 million migrant workers, out of which nearly 10 million are from India.
The panel discussion - Transitional Justice: Towards Building Back Better – was jointly organized by Manila-based
Migrant Forum in Asia (MFA), Delhi-based Global Research Forum on Diaspora and Transnationalism (GRFDT)
and Beirut-based Regional Center for Refugees and Migrants (CCRM).
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