Distressed Indian workers in Saudi Arabia have only two options
Explaining the situation faced by the retrenched Indian workers of Saudi Oger, Saudi-bin Laden and Saad Group, External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup said in his weekly media briefing in New Delhi on Thursday that Saudi authorities have offered to facilitate speedy repatriation of those seeking to return home or to assist those wishing to relocate.
“Following the high-level discussions that Minister of State for External Affairs VK Singh had with Saudi authorities during his visit to Saudi Arabia in July, the Saudi authorities took a magnanimous view of the situation and agreed to the speedy repatriation of those Indian workers wishing to return to India and also assisting those workers wishing to relocate to other companies,” Swarup said.
“No other option is available to Indian workers belonging to these three companies.” The spokesperson said Singh is again in Saudi Arabia now as there are some issues which need to be addressed so that the retrenched workers either seek alternate employment or return to India. “Minister of State will try to reach out to them to impress upon them to cooperate and facilitate in this process,” Swarup said.
However, according to a report from Jeddah, Singh is facing an uphill task in convincing the workers of one of the companies to return home and wait for their pending arrears, as the workers are not in a mood to heed the minister’s advice. The minister visited a workers’ accommodation on Makkah highway on Thursday and told them to “seek alternative employment offered by other employers, if you are willing, or return home and wait there for your dues”. He also emphasised that it was not in the interest of either party to continue to stay for an indefinite for their pending claims. Singh reiterated that both the governments of Saudi Arabia and India were working seriously on the issue and would be sort it out, as there were many formalities and procedures involved. He had also visited another workers’ camp of the same crisis-hit construction company in Jeddah on Wednesday. In Riyadh, Indian Ambassador Javed Ahmed met with Saudi Foreign Affairs Minister, Adel Al Jubeir and handed over a letter from Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed to Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz, according to a statement issued by the embassy.
It also further stated that the Ambassador had discussed the welfare of Indian workers in the Gulf kingdom but did not specify details. In a related development, Saudi Labour Minister Mufrej Al Haqbani held meeting on Thursday with Pakistan Minister for Overseas Pakistani Affairs Pir Syed Sardaruddin Shah Rashidi and his accompanying delegation to discuss their nationals working in some of the crisis-hit companies.