NRIs from Kerala faced wage theft amid Covid: Study

NRIs from Kerala faced wage theft amid Covid, says study

The study also found that 60% of those who returned during Covid wanted to re-migrate

Representative image. Credit: iStock photo

A study among the non-resident Indians from Kerala (NRKs) who returned during the Covid pandemic, mainly from the Gulf countries, has found that a large number of NRKs had suffered wage theft, especially those with years of service.

The study also found that 60 per cent of those who returned during Covid wanted to re-migrate and many may have already re-migrated. An overall increase was found in the post-lockdown remittance, which would be a relief to Kerala as the money from abroad has been a major contributing factor to state's economy with around Rs. 2.25 lakh crore NRK deposits in Kerala banks.

The study conducted by the Centre for Development Studies, a leading social research institution in Thiruvananthapuram, also recommended assistance for those who wish to re-migrate, ensuring ease of doing business and financial support measures for those who wish to start ventures in Kerala.

CDS former professor and founder-chairman of the International Institute of Migration and Development S Irudaya Rajan and Balasubramanyam Pattath, a PhD student in Development Economics at the Graduate Institute, Geneva, carried out the study on a sample size of 1,985 among those who returned during May-December 2020. As per the state government's estimations 14.33 lakh returned between May 2020 and April 2021.

The study found that nearly 47 per cent had returned due to job loss and 39 per cent among them faced wage theft in the form of non-payment of wages, wage cuts and denial of benefits due to them. Among those asked to resign by companies, over 40 per cent suffered wage theft. Nearly 10 per cent of those who worked during the initial months of Covid suffered wage theft. 11 percent of the workers whose work visas were not extended also experienced wage theft.

The study also found that workers with more years of experience mainly suffered wage theft. 61 per cent of workers who did not receive their wages and benefits had experience of more than five years, while many with shorter work experience received their wages before return. Most of those suffered the wage theft were reluctant to use the legal channels for redressal, which could be to preserve future job prospects.

Rajan told DH that it could be inferred that the foreign employers could be forsaking good relations with the older employees who probably were not considered valuable due to their age. He also said that the increasing trend in remittances could be also due to investments being made by those returning in large numbers. Hence a real reflection of the impact on Covid on remittance could be evaluated only after some time, he said.

Watch the latest DH Videos here:

Get a round-up of the day's top stories in your inbox

Check out all newsletters

Get a round-up of the day's top stories in your inbox