NRI body demands implementation of minimum wage proposal

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Dubai, Mar 9 (UNI) An NRI body has welcomed the Indian government's proposal to impose a minimum wage for Indian workers in the Gulf region and has demanded its early implementation which it said will help improve India's image abroad.

In a memorandum to Vayalar Ravi, Minister of Overseas Indian Affairs, the Pravasibadhu Welfare Trust said the proposal will end the unending woes of expatriate Indian workers regarding poor pay and living conditions here and also reduce the problem of illegal workers.

The memorandum said the proposal was a much-needed step and served to protect India's image abroad, welfare of Indian workers and also in the interested of long term labour relations in the Gulf.

Incidentally, Bangladesh yesterday stipulated minimum wages for their workers in Saudi Arabia. The minimum wage for maids are in force already.

Minimum wage will drastically reduce the problem of illegal workers and the need to give amnesty by Gulf countries. Indian workers who are lured to come here are often not paid the salary promised by the recruiting agencies and are forced to run away just to survive.

That makes them illegal for no fault of their own and the regular amnesty announced portrays India in a poor light. However, the proposal to take bank guarantee of Rs 100,000 from workers who did not pass 10th standard and a deposit of 2500 dollars from employer are not a practical suggestion. So, we request the authorities to withdraw this proposal, the memorandum said, adding it appreciated the initiative taken by Gulf countries to improve the living conditions of workers.

The living expenses in the Gulf have increased manifold and as a result the workers will be left with nothing to save if the minimum wages are not implemented. According to a survey conducted by us covering 10,100 people, it was found that hardly 5 per cent workers have actual savings to settle comfortably on return.

It may be noted that the Gulf companies according to published reports are willing to pay double the proposed minimum wage to workers from other Arab countries, Africa and also from countries from South East Asia like Vietnam and Thailand. So it is not a question of affordability but the firms here believe that Indian labour are willing to work for a pittance.

The expatriate workers send most of their savings , if any, to India and hence Indian economy will be the beneficiary.

Besides the workers live without family support and they face psychological problems arising out of low pay/no pay.

UNI XC NC KP1135

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