Ninety Indian workers have been stranded in Saudi Arabia after their Saudi sponsor flouted the terms of the contract they had signed in India.
The workers each paid around Rs.100,000 ($2,300) to their recruiter in India after they were promised jobs with a salary of 1,000 Saudi riyals ($267) a month as food preparers and cashiers in Saudi Arabia, the Arab News reported.
But after arrival in the Saudi capital Riyadh, they were told that they would be paid only 500 riyals ($133) as the rest of their salaries had to account for the payment for their visas and "other allied charges".
"Back home we signed a contract for two years with the local agent in Mumbai for a monthly salary of 800 riyals ($213) plus 200 riyals ($53) for the food allowance," the newspaper quoted one of the aggrieved workers as saying.
But their Saudi sponsor refused to abide by the terms of the original contract and instead dictated his own terms.
According to the workers, they had applied for jobs as qualified fast-food employees in food-preparation stations and cash registers. Instead they were handed mops to clean floors.
Left with no option, 70 of the 90 workers accepted the Saudi employer's terms and started working with lower salaries to cover for the Rs.100,000 they had each paid to the recruiter in India.
Another worker, Kumar, told the newspaper that seven of the workers were now back in India as the Saudi sponsor sent them back "as an example" after they voiced their dissent.
The remaining 13 workers, who refused to accept the local sponsor's terms, are now camped in a tent at a Riyadh locality as they have nowhere else to go.
"Our only demand is give us facilities and salaries as stipulated in the original labour contract, which indicated the monthly salary of 800 riyals, plus 200 riyals for food, accommodation for two years and the Iqama (local identity card for expatriate workers) expenses to be borne by the employer," Kumar said.
According to an official of the Federation of Kerala Associations in Saudi Arabia (FKASA), the 13 workers are being provided food by some local Indians out of kindness.
Meanwhile, FKASA has approached the Indian embassy in India regarding the workers' case.