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Gulf Indian workers boycott Onam

india Updated: Sep 06, 2006 14:23 IST
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Over 1,000 Indian workers in Bahrain boycotted the harvest festival of Onam, to protest against the total lack of community support.

All the workers were employees of the now defunct Light Style Garment factory, which closed in May last year. The workers, mostly from Kerala, are still waiting for their dues of 1,000 Bahraini dinars (BD) each, from the company which closed after it incurred financial loss.

The Indian workers say that Bahraini authorities promised them work permits for a new job and claim that 500 work permits were issued but only 350 workers have actually received the permit till now.

"How can these associations and clubs celebrate a harvest festival like Onam when helpless people like us are suffering?" asked former employees' action committee chairman Tommy Joseph.

"Onam is all about happiness and prosperity, but here we have not received our rightful dues and are facing uncertainties in life. Thousands of dinars are being spent on these festivities when the money could be utilised for the welfare of the unfortunate workers in Bahrain," he added.

"It is an unfortunate decision made by the workers since everything possible was done for them," Bahrain Keraleeya Samajam (BKS) general secretary Madhu Madhavan said.

The Bahraini labour ministry on its part claims that, after the collapse of the company all the Indian workers were either rehabilitated or repatriated in coordination with the Indian embassy in Bahrain.

About 280 of them have since been repatriated to India and more than 700 were transferred to other companies legally, says the ministry. However it added that dues owed to the workers is still pending.

The Indian embassy said that a case against the Bahraini company was filed with Bahraini labour ministry and it has already been referred to the justice ministry.

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