Sixty-one Indians including 20 workers from Gujarat have reportedly been stranded in a compound of a private company in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Unable to get any help, the Sarpanch of Ghogha village, Bhavnagar district, has written to the Ministry of External Affairs seeking intervention in bringing back eight workers of Ghogha and others.
“These men have not been paid for months neither have their work permit been renewed. They are stuck inside the campus of a Riyadh-based company without any money. Also, without the work permit, they stand the risk of being arrested if they step outside,” Ansar Dilawarbhai Rathod, Sarpanch of Ghogha Piram gram panchayat, Bhavnagar, told NewsClick.
“About 2 years back, a company named A&P had conducted a mass interview in Mumbai and men from our village had got the job through a contractor. Locals of this village often travel to countries in the Gulf region for jobs. But, usually they come back after working for some years. These men have not been receiving salary for several months now and have run out of food. They sought the intervention of the local labour court that ordered the employers to provide them food, water and other basic amenities. However, their work permit was not renewed nor have their salaries been cleared,” added Rathod, whose uncle Iqbal Ismail Rathod is one of the eight men from Ghogha who are stranded in Riyadh.
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In a letter written on September 4 to Dr S Jaishankar, Minister of External Affairs, Rathod stated that the workers have been stranded due to mismanagement of the company A&P. The letter further states, “From the last ten months, the company authorities are making false promises that they will be sent back to their country soon. But till date no action has been taken. Their (stranded persons) Labour Card also has not been renewed till date because of which they are not being able to go out from their camp site.”
“After the intervention of the local labour court, the company has returned the workers’ passport but it is useless as their work permit has expired and if they step out, they would be arrested as per law of the land,” Rathod said.
“Work permit of some workers has expired more than a year back in June 2018,” he added.
Gaurang Makwana, the Collector of Bhavnagar district has said that his office will take necessary action in the matter immediately and support the workers in every way.