20/10/2020

Hundreds of Indian workers demand unpaid wages from Saudi construction firm : The Tribune India

"Many didn't want to return without their money but had no choice," he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by
phone.
The Indian embassy in Riyadh said the workers' complaint had been taken up with the company and Saudi
officials this month, and that it was awaiting a response on the matter.

The Saudi human resources ministry could not be reached for comment but last month said workers could log
violations through its online dispute settlement platform or go to a labour court.
The Nasser S Al Hajri Corporation---which describes itself on its website as the largest industrial contractor in the
Middle East---did not respond to repeated requests for comment.
Helpline in demand
Hundreds of thousands of Indian migrant workers are estimated to have returned home from Gulf nations this
year due to COVID-19, and activists, lawyers and unions said they were dealing with fresh complaints about pay
issues on a daily basis.
The number of wage theft cases reported from Gulf countries rose more than three-fold between April and July
compared with the same period last year, says the Business and Human Rights Resource Centre, which advocates
for human rights in business.
"We started a helpline for Gulf migrants in the middle of the pandemic and were flooded with calls of wage theft,"
said Rafeek Ravuther, founder of The Centre for Indian Migrant Studies, a Kerala-based charity that works for
migrant rights.

"Among them there were hundreds calling in about (the Nasser S Al Hajri Corporation) and a few others," he
added. "We consolidated the complaints and encouraged them to fight this collectively since it is difficult to pursue
alone for many." One of the workers in the case said he was owed 120,000 rupees ($1,637) and feared for his
future without the money.
"I wanted to start a grocery store with (the money) but now I am running around filing complaints and jobhunting," said Krishnan, who did not use his real name due to the ongoing case.
"I am still waiting while ... my savings are diminishing rapidly," he said by phone from Kerala. --- Reuters

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