India to fix minimum wage for workers hired by all GCC countries

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Dubai, Feb 10 (UNI) The Indian government is likely to soon announce a minimum wage limit for unskilled workers for all Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states, on the lines of the 100 Bahraini Dinars (Rs 10000) as minimum wages fixed for Bahrain from next month, Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs Vayalar Ravi said.

He said in reports published by a daily here today that Indian diplomatic missions in the other GCC states (UAE, Oman, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia) have all been asked to forward their recommendations and proposals in this connection.

Mr Ravi said on phone from Chennai the move was to protect the rights of overseas Indian workers, especially unskilled labourers in the construction sector and the minimum wage limit is likely to vary from one GCC state to another- on the basis of cost of living and other economic factors.

He pointed out that in Bahrain top Indian embassy officials had already discussed the minimum wage limit issue with the local government authorities and industry leaders before making their recommendations.

''A similar exercise is now be undertaken by Indian diplomatic missions in other GCC states,'' Mr Ravi said.

''The implementation of the minimum wage policy will be carried out in a phased manner. We do not want any friction with any foreign government and as such our minimum wage policy announcement will be made only after prior consultation with local government authorities,'' Mr Ravi told the Khaleej Times.

''With the plummeting value of the Dollars and the rapidly escalating cost of living throughout the Gulf, the average salaries of unskilled workers are not sufficient. This serious situation prompted my ministry to come up with this protective policy,'' Mr Ravi disclosed.

Indian Ambassador in Bahrain, Balakrishna Shetty, was quoted as saying three days ago starting March India will stop workers from leaving for Bahrain unless they have their contracts attested by the Indian embassy. Shetty also said the new wage limit will also apply to contracts that come up for renewal.

An estimated 2 million unskilled Indian labourers are working in the six GCC states.

The minimum wage will impact construction industry in the Gulf hiking costs and forcing employers to look for cheaper labour which is hard to find.

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