Tirupattur: Thousands of migrant workers from Tamil Nadu in Middle East and South East Asia have seen their dreams of a better life turn sour with unscrupulous agents and employers depriving them of basic needs and making them work long hours.
Mostly working in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Jordan, Bahrain Singapore, Malaysia, these workers remit around 43.5 Billion US Dollars to their families back home, A Raman, President of an NGO, `Grama Iyakkam`, quoting an annual RBI report, said.
According to the NGO, which organised a seminar on the workers` plight at Sivaganga recently, these labourers are forced to live and work in appalling conditions.
Sexual abuse of women by employers, non-payment of wages and confiscation of their passports are their main grouse. Even in countries where punishment for such offences is severe, the workers do not lodge complaints, fearing further harassment, said speakers at a seminar organised by the NGO.
Hotel workers in Malaysia and Mauritius complained about their passports being taken away by employers and being forced to work for 18 hours without proper food and rest.
Speakers suggested that the Centre emulate Sri Lanka which monitors their citizens in foreign lands and promptly addresses their grievances and to implement measures to ensure their welfare. Though Indian officials assure that employers are being monitored, nothing was being done, they said.
In some cases, employers allow workers allow to stay and work beyond the stipulated period and then blackmail them, saying they would be punished for overstay, the NGO said.
The seminar was jointly sponsored by Building and Wood workers International and Tamil Nadu Construction and Unorganised workers Federation.