Indians forced unwaged demand action from embassy in Bahrain
More than thousand Indian workers who lost their jobs after a garment factory was shut down here are now hopeful that their pending dues will be settled.
Light Style garment workers were out of jobs after the owners reportedly declared bankruptcy in May 2005. The textile workers were then assured by the management that all their dues would be settled after the machinery and other assets were sold.
Sources have now confirmed that the company premises in Salmabad village was leased or sold. "Officials who visited the site found there were two labour camps and a storehouse,” the source said. Indian Embassy officials have now submitted report to the Bahrain Ministry of Labour which likely states the evidence that the company is receiving income and now is in a position to the settle the workers dues.
The tip off of the construction activity at the company site was informed to the officials by former workers of the company during the monthly Open House. The workers raised the issue on several occasions on the Open House conducted by the Indian embassy to address grievance of workers held monthly on the last Friday.
Around 1,050 workers were left in the lurch after the factory was closed. Tony Joesph, spokesman of the retrenched workers said, “Most of the workers hailed from Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Orissa and Uttar Pradesh of which 353 returned without any payment. The company owes each of them between BD100-900 (Rs 10,000- 90,000). We were with no jobs and left at the mercy of the management.”
The 1,050 workers consist of - 1,036 Indians, 11 Bangladeshis, 2 Nepali nationals and 1 Pakistani. The former Light Style workers also marched from their accommodation in Salmabad till the Indian embassy to raise their demand for immediate action by the concerned government bodies. Joseph said several workers who returned to India were still contacting him to know about the progress of their case.
But crisis continued to loom over the textile workers as two workers reportedly committed suicide after they returned to India and another- Sudhakaran, died last year in a work accident here. He had worked with the garment factory for four years as a driver’s assistant.
During this period the Indian embassy was following up the case with the labour ministry regarding the compensation of the textile workers. But there was a strong resentment among the workers who stayed in the country and started doing odd jobs. During one of the Open House sessions, the retrenched workers of Light Style Garment Factory reportedly stormed the premises and accused the Indian embassy here of dragging feet over the issue of pending wages.
Bahrain signed the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the US in 2006 which had its repercussions on the textile sector which employed foreign workforce. In the past few years, several garment factories have closed down and shifted their operations. Indians are the largest foreign population representing close to 300,000 living and working in Bahrain.
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