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India asks US for 'detailed' probe into workers' plea

India has asked the US government to conduct a 'detailed' probe into Indian shipyard workers' allegations of maltreatment.

india Updated: Apr 18, 2008 02:20 IST

India has asked the US government to conduct a 'detailed' probe into Indian shipyard workers' allegations of maltreatment and that they paid money to their recruiters for promised green cards.

In a written reply in the Rajya Sabha on Thursday, Minister of Overseas Indian affairs Vayalar Ravi said the Indian government, through its embassy, had taken cognisance of the protests by the workers.

"The Indian mission in the US has approached the government to conduct a detailed investigation into the matter and take remedial measures," said Ravi.

He also added that the Indian embassy has been instructed not to give visas to the recruiters involved in the case, so that they do not start signing up new workers from India.

According to the minister, Signal International, a marine fabrication company, had recruited 590 workers, who had gone to the US on H2B guest worker visas valid for 10 months.

"Workers were aggrieved on account of alleged poor accommodation and amenities, deductions from their salary for accommodation, food, electricity, water and alleged non-fulfilment of initial commitment of permanent residency status," Ravi informed parliament's upper house.

He also said the ministry had suspended the licenses of the two Indian recruiting agents, Dewan Consultants and S. Mansur and Company, and black-listed the foreign employer.

Legal action is also being initiated against the recruiting agents for violation of Emigration Act, 1983.

The workers had first walked out of the Mississippi and Texas shipyards in March, supported by local civil rights and worker rights groups. About 100 of them marched to Washington to demand action against the US company and demanded permanent residency as assured by their recruiters to whom they allegedly paid $20,000 each.

The US State Department spokesperson 11 March said, "We have referred the workers' complaints to the appropriate government agencies."