Free mobile phone suggested for every Indian housemaid in the Gulf

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Dubai, Oct 2 (UNI) Every Indian housemaid and household worker in the Gulf may be given a free mobile phone at the expense of the employer, according to a recent proposal from Indian heads of mission in the region.

The innovative suggestion came up at the meeting of Heads of Indian Missions of GCC countries convened by the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs in Delhi and was the most interesting among a series of measures mooted by the Indian government to protect Household Service Workers (HSWs).

The housemaids from Asia are often tortured and denied their wages in the Gulf. Many runaway to the missions for help and some who are held captive try to jump off the apartments resulting in death or injury. The phone will help them be in touch with missions and social workers and prevent abuse.

The new Ambassador to Oman Anil Wadhwa who revealed this said in Muscat that Oman and India would soon sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on labour and manpower related issues.

''The MoU will be inked in the near future. Negotiations are at an advanced stage and an Indian delegation recently held talks with the officials of the Omani Manpower Ministry on wide-ranging labour issues,'' Mr Wadhwa was quoted in reports here as saying.

The MoU would look into the interests of Indian expatriate workers in Oman, including their sponsorship, recruitment and rights. It would be similar to the ones India has signed with the UAE and Kuwait for the protection and welfare of Indian workers.

The heads of missions meeting was attended by ambassadors accredited to the six GCC members, Jordan, Libya, Yemen and Malaysia - all countries hosting sizeable number of Indian workforce, including labourers and housemaids.

''We at the mission here in Oman have already begun the efforts to implement some of the measures to help workers in distress, like setting up a 24/7 hotline for Indian workers to lodge complaints,'' he said, adding that the there have been some complaints so far.

Talking further about the measures that the Indian government has proposed for the welfare of Indian workers in the GCC countries, he said that one of the measures was to decide minimum wage for the Indian workers.

''A system would be in place to ensure these workers register with the Indian authorities before leaving the country,'' he said, adding that the government in India could also impose security guarantee fees for hiring Indian workers.


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