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Ministry to set up welfare offices in Gulf States

Vimala Vasan

Abu Dhabi , April 15

THE Ministry for Overseas Indian Affairs is planning to set up welfare offices and appoint a team of lawyers in the Gulf States to represent expatriate workers in the case of labour disputes or cheating by recruiting agents, the Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs, Mr Jagdish Tytler, said.

Mr Tytler, who is in the UAE to review the situation regarding labour and other issues concerning NRIs, told Business Line from Dubai that following an extensive two-day meeting in Kuwait with Indian embassy and consulate labour officials from all the Gulf States earlier this week, it had become evident that the problems related to Gulf workers were a cause for concern.

"We took a detailed review of the plight of workers and housemaids in all the Gulf States and the mischief committed by ruthless recruiting agents who bring unsuspecting people here on visit visas and force them into illegal activities. We are looking at several measures to address these problems and find solutions," Mr Tytler said.

He also criticised the role of recruiting agents in India who exploited aspiring job seekers to the Gulf by extorting money from them. "There is no control once they are brought here. We are trying to find solutions to curb the activities of such agents," he said.

One way is to bring the Protectorate of Emigrants under the purview of the Ministry in order to ensure better supervision at exit points. Moves are under way in this regard, he said. The Minister indicated that as a first step, a team of lawyers will be paid by the Government to take up and defend cases concerning Indian workers. Plans are also on to set up welfare offices in the Gulf States in coordination with the Indian missions, which will respond to requirements and problems of workers.

He added that insurance companies will also be made more accountable so that workers get better coverage and compensation. Currently, the workers get inadequate compensation, which adds to their woes when they are in trouble and have to return home.

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