RIYADH: Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman has directed Labor and Social Development Minister Mufrej Al-Haqabani to take all necessary measures to solve the problems faced by the 2,500 Indian workers.
Al-Haqabani said the ministry has already started taking steps to ensure that the expats’ rights are protected.
“What happened was an individual act by one company which did a mistake,” he told the media following his talks with Vijay Kumar Singh, visiting Indian state minister of external affairs.
Haqabani expressed appreciation for the Indian government and the Indian workers for their contribution to the Saudi economy.
“We have agreed with Saudi Arabian Airlines to send back any Indian worker who wants to leave,” he said.
“We will also appoint lawyers at our expense to follow up on the workers’ financial claims in courts against their employer in order to ensure that the unpaid salaries and financial dues are fully settled,” said the minister.
Al-Haqabani stressed that Saudi Arabia does not tolerate any violation to the rights of workers of any nationality.
The minister issued orders to allow the Indian workers to immediately transfer their sponsorship and renew their residence permits.
He also ordered that restrictions on workers leaving the Kingdom be eased.
India praises KSA magnanimity
The Indian minister said he had a productive interaction with Al-Haqabani to solve the problems of Indian workers.
The Saudi government has taken urgent steps to ensure that all the camps where Indian workers are staying are provided with medical care, food and sanitation, Singh said.
“The Saudi government is also providing free passage to all those who want to go back to India,” he said, adding that the Saudi government “will honor the claims filed by the workers against the companies that defaulted.”
The Saudi government has also agreed for the workers’ transfer of sponsorship to other companies in the Kingdom.
Singh said the Indian mission would move into action and make a list of financial claims and finalize formalities for the workers to leave.
“I am thankful to the Saudi government for the very positive attitude and magnanimity,” he said.
He said one couldn’t expect more large-heartedness than this. “Things are not as bad as have been projected in the media,” he said, adding: “We are in close contact with various departments in the Kingdom. We will contact the International Labor Organization and explain to it that things are not the way they perceive them.”
Mohammed Noor Rahman Sheikh, Indian consul general in Jeddah, meanwhile, told Arab News he is preparing a list of Indians who want to return home and of those who want to stay on and continue working for other companies.
He said the Saudi government is very cooperative in helping the workers facing legal wranglings.
“Out of the 2,500 workers, some 700 might return to India. The has to be finalized shortly,” he said, adding that they will leave only after their financial dues are settled.
Describing it as an isolated problem, considering that there are three million Indian workers in the Kingdom, the diplomat said that many others receive proper care and attention from their sponsors and host country.
He emphasized that Saudi authorities were taking care of workers’ daily needs.
The diplomat pledged to help Indian workers in the western part of the Kingdom.