From: SHAH FAISAL KHAN <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Thu, Apr 18, 2013 at 4:30 PM
Subject: [aijazahmedit] Employer abandons 82 Indian workers-SAUDI ARABIA
Employer abandons 82 workers
Some of the stranded Indian workers in Riyadh. (AN photo by Ghazanfar Ali K
RIYADH: GHAZANFAR ALI KHAN
Thursday 18 April 2013
Last Update 18 April 2013 3:51 am
Eighty-two Indians working for a private contracting firm in Riyadh have been left stranded without food and water after their employer reneged on paying their salaries for three months.
"The workers have no residency permits (iqamas) and medical cards and are living in a cramped three-room apartment in a Riyadh suburb," said Kummil Sudheer, president of Novodaya Riyadh, a local NGO, which has a mandate to serve needy Indian workers.
The firm, LWA & NIMA Contracting Company, has kept their passports and iqamas, said Sudheer. He said a complaint has been lodged with the Indian Embassy. "The Indian mission is studying the case and is trying to find out how these workers landed in the Kingdom without valid employment contracts," said Sibi George, while assuring the workers of the embassy's full support.
George said the embassy is also trying to locate the sponsor. It is coordinating efforts with Saudi officials to rescue the workers and possibly legalize their status. The workers, who are on the verge of starvation, are from the Indian states of Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Haryana, West Bengal and Delhi. "At the moment, they are living like prison inmates in the three-room apartment," said Sudheer.
The manager of the contracting company contacted by Arab News did not answer calls. The landline phone service of the firm is out of order.
Sudheer, who sent the copy of the complaint by email, said workers were hired in September last year by LWA & NIMA Contracting Company, through an Indian recruitment agency.
This parent company sub-contracted these workers to other companies in Jeddah and Jubail. However, the companies in Jeddah and Jubail returned these men to the parent company, possibly because of the recent crackdown on illegal workers. "Since then, life has become hell," said one of the workers in a phone interview. "The shelter we're staying in does not have enough space to sleep."
"Moreover, we have not been issued the mandatory iqama, which hampers our free movement around the city," he added. "We don't have passports also, and the flat owner has cut the water supply too ... We don't have money to buy drinking water, groceries and medicines," he said.
Asked about the employment contract papers, Ajaya Kumar, charity wing convener of Novodaya Riyadh, said each person paid over SR 8,000 to the Jaipur-based Rajasthan Travel and Trade Links, the main agent responsible for the recruitment of these workers.
Saudi Arabia is home to over two million Indian workers.