Illegal Indian workers in S Arabia desperate to return home

A group of Indian workers, whose work contract expired two years ago, have sought Consular help in their desperate bid to return home from Saudi Arabia.

About 18 cleaning workers, most of whom are from Andhra Pradesh, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, were recruited by a maintenance and contracting company in Taif, in 2010.

But since then they have not been paid on time and were denied their residency permits, the workers said.

"We are just exhausted and frustrated. We do not want to stay anymore with our employer and we want to return home," the workers told Arab News.

The employer has not handed over their 'iqamas', residency permits given to expatriates in Saudi Arabia, since their arrival into the Kingdom four years ago and last week one of their colleagues was detained by security authorities during an inspection campaign.

"We are without iqama or money. We had asked Indian consulate in Jeddah for help and they had advised us to come over to Jeddah to lodge an official complaint, but due to our having no iqama we simply couldn't travel," they were quoted as saying.

The workers alleged that their employer is attempting to supply them as manpower to other companies in major cities.

"We were brought to Jeddah for a few days then moved back to Taif, and after few weeks we were taken to Riyadh. We are being moved all around without iqama in our employer's transport vehicle and only the driver has papers," a worker said.

"In Riyadh, we were kept at Batha by our employer. One of our colleagues, V Bhoomaih, who was detained by Riyadh Police a week ago for not having Iqama, is still locked up. Since then we are not stepping outside for fear of arrest as massive inspection is taking place in some areas of Riyadh city," he said.

The workers have requested the Indian embassy in Riyadh to help them to return home.

These workers went on strike twice for non-payment of wages and not being handed over their iqamas. Last year when they protested, Taif Police had to intervene.

Due to poor record of cleaning and frequent labour strikes that resulted in garbage piling up in the hill resort city, Taif Municipality has not renewed the cleaning contract of the company which expired in October 2013, and since then situation of these workers has aggravated.

Workers complained that their salary was 600 Saudi Riyals per month and that too was not paid on time pushing them into extreme difficult conditions.

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