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India to take up Gulf workers' cause

December 11, 2005 20:20 IST

The Indian government will take steps to mitigate the problems faced by its blue-collar workers in Gulf nations in view of the increasing cases of exploitation of workers in the region.

"There are an estimated four million Indians in the Gulf countries, including many Indian blue-collar workers, and the government's main concern is the difficulties facing Indian blue-collar workers in some Gulf countries," Oscar Fernandes, the overseas affairs minister, said at a meeting with non-resident Indians in Dubai on Saturday.

"My ministry will take steps so that the problem is minimized," he added.

According to the minister, many workers come to the UAE and other Gulf countries on visit visas and then extend their stay, thus landing in trouble.

"They pay huge amounts to buy a visiting visa and when they fail to get a job, they end up in jails. The complaints are related to unskilled workers," he said.

"What we need to do is build awareness back in India on the important steps that need to be taken into consideration while travelling overseas for employment," he said.

Asked how the ministry will tackle the issue of many women visiting Dubai and landing up in the flesh trade, Fernandes said he will talk to officials to tackle the issue.

C M Bhandari, the Indian Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates, said he met UAE officials and discussed with them the problems faced by blue-collar workers.

"In my meeting with the UAE Minister of Labour, he emphasised the need to discipline errant companies. We are very happy about it. The UAE is equally concerned about the issues faced by blue-collar workers," he said.

The minister was in Dubai to interact with the Indian community on the sidelines of the fourth Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas, to be held in Hyderabad from January 7-9.

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