4000 Indian workers lodged in jail

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Dubai, Oct 30 (UNI) About 4000 Indian expatriate workers have been lodged in a Dubai jail after police cracked down on a large number of labourers protesting in Jebel Ali industrial area demanding better pay.

''I understand that there may be about 4000 workers here,'' Mr B S Mubarak, the Indian Consul for Labour and Welfare said from the Aweer jail where he had gone to visit the Indian workers and officials. Sources said there were also some Pakistani workers.

''To my knowledge no Indian has been deported so far'' Mr Mubarak said. ''We have held discussions with the authorities who have agreed to send the labourers back to work provided they give an undertaking that they will not indulge in violence hereafter.'' Those who want to return to India will be sent back and those who were filmed by police as inciting violence will also be deported, the authorities said.

Mr Venu Rajamony, Consul General Dubai, was out of station and Mr Talmis Ahmed, Indian Ambassador was on a tour within the UAE and were not available for comment.

The consulate officials have been regularly visiting the jails to enquire about the welfare of the prisoners including those currently held there after the labour unrest.

The labourers, most of them from Rajasthan, Punjab and Andhra Pradesh, had struck work and resorted to violence last weekend over poor working conditions and low pay.

A senior Labour Ministry official in Abu Dhabi had warned that all violent protestors will be booked and deported. The protestors were demanding wages higher than the current Dh 600, better living conditions and transport facilities.

The workers were hardhit by appreciating rupee, high cost of living and low pay which reduced their savings to almost nothing.

Mr K V Shamsudheen, President Pravasibandhu, said the Indian government should negotiate with the Gulf countries minimum wage for workers, on the lines they are doing for housemaids, to find a permanent solution to the problem.

UNI

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