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2021b). The issue of 'wage theft' became a widespread issue across all major migration corridors. Wage
theft was poorly addressed across various migration corridors due to the lack of access to justice
mechanisms and labour protection systems in the countries of origin and destination. In the India- Gulf
Co-operation Council (GCC) migration corridor, neither India nor the GCC countries are signatories to
the ILO Minimum Wage Fixing Convention 1970 (no.131) (Foley and Piper, 2021).

WAGE THEFT
Wage theft consists of the total or partial non-payment of a
worker's remuneration, earned through the provision of labour
services, as stipulated in a written or non-written employment
contract. It also includes the payment of salaries below the
minimum wage, non-payment of overtime, non-payment of
contractually owed benefits, the non-negotiated reduction of
salaries as well as the retention of dues upon termination of one's
contract (MFA, 2021)

Wage theft occurs when an employer pays less than what is legally owed to the employee and it is
prevalent in almost every industry. It consists of the total or partial non-payment of a worker's
remuneration earned through the provision of labour services, as stipulated in a written or non-written
employment contract. It also includes the payment of salaries below the minimum wage, non-payment
of overtime, non-payment of contractually owed benefits, the non-negotiated reduction of salaries as
well as the retention of dues upon termination of one's contract. However, in crises such as COVID-19
that causes large-scale loss of employment and forces emergency repatriation, migrant workers may
need support from the stakeholders to exercise their rights and to recover unpaid wages and dues in
the post-repatriation phase (Mawby and Martin, 2016). The most vulnerable migrants such as lowskilled workers, women domestic workers, undocumented workers are the principal victims of wage
theft during the pandemic.
As per the Migrant Forum in Asia (MFA)6, majority of the wage theft cases reported by Indians were
group cases from medium to large firms involved in construction, hospitality, manufacturing, and
transportation. It indicates that low, medium and high-skilled migrants are uniformly affected by the
non-payment of wages followed by loss of jobs. The data further indicates that Indian workers filed the
majority of group cases. Eleven (11) group cases of wage theft, representing 741 workers were filed. In
addition, both UAE and Saudi Arabia received from Indian Workers the highest number of complaints
on wage theft (324 and 124 respectively). The size of the repatriation exercise and the number of 'wage
theft' cases filed by the Indian workers portray the extent of the problem among the Indian migrants,
especially among the repatriated workers. They do not have access to legal services in the destination
countries. The evidence and characteristics of wage theft against Indian workers was captured through
personal interactions with the returnee migrants. An evidence-gathering using a primary survey
supported the reported stories of massive wage theft during the pandemic.

6https://justiceforwagetheft.org/en/page/fn5yqy10evw

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