Jobless, starved Indian workers refuse to leave Saudi Arabia without arrears

Although thousands of Indian workers in Saudi Arabis have lost their jobs and are facing dire food crisis, they are apprehensive to return home without getting their pending salaries and other benefits

Jobless, starved Indian workers refuse to leave Saudi Arabia without arrears

As the world watched in disbelief the plight of Indian workers starving in Saudi Arabia after losing their jobs, Indian Embassy officials said they have started negotiations with Saudi employers to retrieve the pending arrears of the workers.

Indian Minister of State for External Affairs V.K. Singh will visit at Jeddah on Wednesday. He will be meeting Saudi officials and also visit some labour camps, the officials said.

However, most of the workers are not willing to leave the country without receiving arrears from their employers.
Indian Consul General Noor Rahman Sheikh said a majority of workers are planning to stay in the country and are looking for new employers. A section of workers want to go home only after retrieving their pending salaries and other benefits, Sheikh said.

"Though salaries were not being paid for the last few months to its employees by a leading construction company, it was operating its food mess for workers till last week. The problem surfaced after it stopped the food supplies," he said.

The Consul General said the Indian mission in Jeddah has ensured provision of food for 2,530 Indian workers of one of the construction companies.

"We are working round-the-clock to collect information about distressed workers," he added. Sheikh praised the Indian community living in Jeddah for their support to the distressed Indian workers.

Sheikh said the validity period for passports of some workers has expired and the Indian consulate is renewing those documents. The exit visa and Iqama (residency visa) of some workers have also been lapsed and Indian Embassy is trying to find a solution with the help of the local authorities, Sheikh said.

Very few plan to go home without arrears, the officials said.

Meanwhile, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj appealed to the over three million Indian community in the country to "help your fellow brothers and sisters".

"I assure you that no Indian worker rendered unemployed in Saudi Arabia will go without food," she tweeted yesterday. More than 10,000 Indian workers have been starving, added Sushma.

Reportedly, the oil-rich Arabian country has seen reeling under one of the gravest economic crisis following the fall in oil prices.