Indian women allege being duped by Albanian firm

Santhosh Jose, husband of P.R. Raji, one of the women in distress, has approached Kerala's opposition leader Oommen Chandy to help get union Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs Vayalar Ravi and Minister of State for External Affairs E. Ahamed intervene in the issue.

Speaking to IANS over phone from Berat in Albania, a weeping Raji, 28, pleaded for the intervention of the Indian authorities for their safe return.

“At the interview we were promised a minimum salary of $200 plus overtime (for making bags). After reaching here we found out that we have been cheated," she alleged.

Raji, hailing from Alappuzha district, added: "We have nine-hour shifts and except for a short lunch break, the rest of the time we stand and work. We will get our promised salary only if if we achieve the target of 7,100 bags a day.

"All we can make is only 2,500 bags for which they pay just $2 a day. This works out to just around Rs.2,400 a month. We have been cheated by the agent."

She said they were selected by an agent from Goa on a contract with Centre Shqiptare Company, a bag manufacturing firm in Berat, Albania.

They reached Albania April 19.

The group of 20 workers includes eight from Goa, five from Kerala and the rest from Mumbai and Chennai.

Florin Fernandez, 30, from Goa, another woman in the group, said they hope the Indian authorities would come to their help.

"We have been told by our employer that by tomorrow (Monday) 1 p.m. we will be evicted from our room. We fear we could even land in police custody because we were made to sign some papers," she told IANS.

"Our work permit cards have been taken away by company. We have been suffering physically and mentally," Fernandez, who hails from Goa, added.


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