PM launches helpline for overseas Indian workers

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New Delhi, Jan 8 (UNI) Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today launched a 24 x 7 helpline of the Overseas Indian Affairs (OIA) Ministry to provide succour to Overseas Indian workers when they are in distress in their host countries.

Inaugurating the sixth edition of the two-day Pravasi Bharatiya Divas, he also announced the launch of an ''Overseas Workers Resource Centre''(OWRC).

Dr Singh said the OWRC would operate the multi-lingual helpline for grievance redressal and interventions for overseas workers in distress, besides providing relevant information and assistance to potential migrant workers.

''It will be a pioneering effort and I hope this centre will in the long run expand the scope of services to promote legal migration,'' he said.

Overseas Indian Affairs ministry sources said the helpline would be immensely beneficial to Indian workers who are predominant in the Gulf countries.

All that a worker in distress has to do is to call a toll-free number 1800-11-3090 to get proper advice on how to overcome his problems in his host country.

The OWRC would also provide information about how and when to seek legal assistance in case of denial of wages and violation of contract by the employer.

It was pointed out that the centre would help a lot to redress the grievances of Indian workers at a time when many countries are keen to ensure that labour laws are strictly adhered to by the employers there.

The toll-free helpline could also be used by the victims of bad NRI marriages so that the Ministry could initiate appropriate remedial steps, sources said.

Dr Singh said the government had approved the setting up of a ''Council for the Promotion of Overseas Employment'' to serve as a strategic "Think Tank." ''It will be a sort of counselling mechanism to help Indians go through a legal channel for employment,'' sources said, adding that it would help to reduce incidence of cheating of overseas job seekers by travel agents.

The council would seek to ensure that the Indian work force make full use of the new opportunities available in all countries.

UNI SH BDP DS1457

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