Greedy job agents responsible for migrant workers' problems
Most of the problems migrant workers face are due to their exploitation by unscrupulous and greedy recruitment agents. The eagerness of those who...
Most of the problems migrant workers face are due to their exploitation by unscrupulous and greedy recruitment agents. The eagerness of those who want to seek greener pastures is the bait for agents to catch the prospective migrants and lure them to Saudi Arabia promising them all sorts of things. The workers will realize the reality only after landing there. Saudi Arabia says that those who are working legally � with valid work permits and residency contracts � have nothing to fear. Only those who are staying illegally without work permits will face deportation or jail once the July 3 deadline is over. An expatriate becomes illegal when he/she overstays his contract period, generally three years, deserts his original sponsor either during or after the contract period and starts working for someone else; gets involved in a crime or evades arrest. The current Saudi crackdown is aimed at those who have deserted their sponsors (Huroob) and joined someone else. According to one estimate, there are about 6 lakh workers in Saudi Arabia from Andhra Pradesh and Kadapa accounts for at least 1.5 lakh workers. The remaining are from other districts, mostly from Telangana. The Nitaqat regulations would affect about 3 lakh workers immediately and they face the prospect of losing jobs after the amnesty ends in July first week. At least, one lakh workers from Kadapa may face the axe. Most of them need Emergency Certificate (EC) or Exit Permit to come back home. The State Government had stated at a recent all-party meeting in Hyderabad that the Indian Embassy in Riyadh had so far issued about 10,000 ECs. If that is the pace of work at the embassy, it is any body's guess, how many ECs would be issued before the amnesty expires. Allegations were galore against the embassy by the intending returnees. The charges include the embassy staff is not responding to their queries properly and the helpline works occasionally. Earlier, when the United Arab Emirates cracked down on illegal workers, the Kerala government sent special officers to Dubai and Abu Dhabi to help their workers to come back in a regulated fashion. The Andhra Pradesh government did precious little to help them. A minister visited the UAE after the amnesty was over. Even now, it appears the State government is not in a hurry to help its expatriate workers in Saudi Arabia who are facing a crisis. Most of the workers rendered illegal after the Nitaqat are prepared to come home; but they are also resigned to their fate. Some workers from Kadapa still harbour the hope of hanging on somehow or the other. "If we stay here (in Saudi Arabia), we may face hardships but we can earn some money for the future of the family" is the refrain of those who want to stay put. Their main worry is how to repay their debts incurred by them to earn petro dollars. They are caught between the devil and the deep sea. The families of the victims and local political leaders have been demanding that the government should take appropriate steps to bring back the Nitaqat-hit expatriate workers from Saudi Arabia. They should be persuaded to return instead of staying back and face the consequences of spending time in jail if caught. The families demand a special rehabilitation package on their return, as most of them could not repay the debts. Otherwise, they would be in a crisis and may resort to extreme actions. They have urged the local elected representatives to put pressure on the State and Central government to bring succour to the Saudi returnees.