Link wages to cost of living for expat workers: Ravi

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Dubai, Jan 23: India has called for widely accepted international norm of linking the wage structure to the cost of living, as the rising cost of living combined with fall in the value of dollars have severely eroded the real wages of expat workers. Addressing a ministerial meeting on Overseas Employment and Contractual Labour for Countries of Origin and Destination in in Abu Dhabi, Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs Vayalar Ravi stressed the need to rationalise and simplify the instruments for legal entry of workers.

Sponsorship based work entry requirements need to be re-examined to make them transparent and equitable. It should not be the case that a worker who enters legally is rendered an illegal on the bases of a unilateral withdrawal of the sponsorship by the employer. Labour law protection should be extended to a large number of the workers who are working in the informal sector like farms and households and are not covered by labour laws in order to ensure their protection and welfare, he said.

Workers grievances must be taken care of properly and ways to establish a credible and effective joint consultative mechanism at the level of the firm as well as between the diplomatic missions and the local government for effective grievances redressal should be worked up.

Overseas employment and free movement of people across the borders is important for global economic development in the present world, Mr Ravi said.

The free movement of capital, goods and technology is seen as a virtue, but the movement of people is more difficult in the world today than ever in the past, he added.

Facilitating and managing international mobility of labour to transform it into a humane, orderly, and mutually beneficial process is a challenge that faces all today and should work together to make it a ''win-win'' process, he noted.

''India is an ancient civilisation but a young country with over one billion people. It is today, one of the fastest growing economies. We have in recent years surpassed a growth rate of nine per cent and are on course to target 10 per cent. Just as we have opened our market to the global economy. We are also host to millions of immigrants,'' the Minister added.

He said as a free and tolerant society migrants have also been drawn to India by its economic prosperity, WAM news agency reported.

Growing interconnectivity of goods and labour markets is spurring labour movement across Asia. Temporary migration of skilled and unskilled labour, documented and undocumented, today feed multiple migratory circuits across the world.

A significant part of this movement actually occurs in the Southern hemisphere with South-South migrants as numerous as North-South migrants. Asia with its high-income countries and its rapidly industrialising centres is a primary focus of intra-regional migration. In 2005 Asia hosted 28 per cent of the world's migrants, the majority of whom came from within the Asian continent.

The Minister suggested that in an increasingly globalising world, future development prospects will be determined substantially on achieving a minimum policy harmonisation on international labour mobility across the world.


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