400 stranded workers in Sohar return to India
September 4, 2017 | 9:05 PM
by Rahul Das/[email protected]
India’s ambassador to Oman, hailed the efforts of the Ministry of Manpower in helping repatriate the workers.

Muscat: Around 400 stranded workers, who claimed they were not paid salaries for months, have arrived home in India.

Workers, who said they had been struggling for food and accommodation for weeks, are now united with their families with help from the Ministry of Manpower and the Indian Embassy in Muscat.

Indra Mani Pandey, India’s ambassador to Oman, hailed the efforts of the Ministry of Manpower in helping repatriate the workers.

“Oman’s Ministry of Manpower and the Indian Embassy in Oman have been working together as a team to help these Indian workers, who unfortunately have not been paid salaries for about four months. We will continue to assist them and help them find jobs in Oman.”

Meanwhile, the Indian government has placed the company under the “Prior Approval Category.”

“Whenever Indian emigrants face any problem from their foreign employer, they contact the Indian Mission to complain against foreign employers and seek redressal of their grievances.”

“Such complaints basically relate to the non-payment/reduced payment of salaries, non-availability of promised jobs, adverse working conditions or exploitation etc. Immediately on receipt of a complaint, the Mission takes up the matter with the foreign employer, Indian immigrants, as well as the local authorities to settle the matter amicably.”

Recruiting agents

In deserving situations, they try to get the workers repatriated by coordinating with the concerned recruiting agents and the Protector General of Emigrants.

Indian Missions and posts abroad have standing instructions to immediately take up such cases with the relevant local authorities/foreign sponsors with a view to expediting the process of law and obtaining due justice.

Indian Missions also recommend the inclusion of such foreign employers in the Prior Approval Category (Black list) based on the merits of the case.

On the basis of such a recommendation, the Ministry places the concerned foreign company in the “Prior Approval Category.”

“A foreign company, when included in the ‘Prior Approval Category list’ is no longer allowed to recruit workers from India,” according to Ministry of External Affairs of India.

Workers said they are very happy after being united with their family members. “It’s such a feeling, which can’t be expressed through words,” said Vanapalli Ramana after reaching Visakhapatnam.

“I must say, I was lucky, well coming to the point. My name was put up for expatriation, till the moment you wouldn't know where will your destination be. So I travelled to Muscat on the Ministry of Manpower-arranged mini bus. On reaching to airport, we are given papers—visa, passport and ticket to fly back home,” he added.

Not everyone is as fortunate as Ramana.

Project Engineer Ninad More still doesn’t know when he is flying back home. “Every day, I am waiting to see my name figure in the list of people who will be flying out,” he said.

More said that every day the Ministry of Manpower with the help of the Indian Embassy is sending out a few people home. “So when the list comes every morning, everyone rushes to check whether his name is there,” he said.

Nearly 800 migrant workers were left in the lurch by the company without pay, food and water for the last few months.

The Oman government and the Indian embassy has offered non-objection certificates to the workers, allowing them to join a new company in Oman and also the facility to file a case in the court to get their pending salary and other benefits.

“But we haven’t got an NOC in our hands, only we were told that it is there in the system,” More said.

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