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India, Kuwait to sign pact to protect workers

Negotiations on the agreement with Kuwait have been initiated, sources told in New Delhi on Sunday.

india Updated: Sep 17, 2006 16:19 IST
Press Trust of India
Press Trust of India

In a move aimed at giving relief to lakhs of Indian nationals working in the Gulf, New Delhi will sign an agreement on labour issues with Kuwait for protecting their interests and revise a similar accord with Qatar.

Negotiations on the agreement with Kuwait have been initiated, sources told in New Delhi on Sunday.

The pact is aimed at institutionalising services and protecting the interests of lakhs of Indians working in Kuwait in view of complaints by many of them about harassment and abuse by their employers.

The sources pointed out that an agreement in the area of labour is a complicated issue as it has implications for the domestic affairs of the host country and requires adjustment of its laws.

A labour agreement with Qatar is already in place and it will be revised, they said.

Similar accords are also proposed to be signed with four other countries of the Gulf—the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Oman and Yemen.

Tens of lakhs of Indians work in Gulf countries and many have complained about ill-treatment by their employers there. The main complaints relate to non-payment of wages and failure of employers to provide proper working conditions.

The Indian government is mostly found helpless in such matters in the absence of any pacts that provide for securing the interests of workers. To make up for this, New Delhi usually uses its good offices with the host country to help address the grievances of workers.

While cooperation in oil and gas remains a high priority, steps are being taken to strengthen ties in other fields like trade, science and technology, information technology, education and civil aviation.

Relations with Kuwait saw a major boost with the visit of its Emir, Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, in New Delhi in June, after which the two sides set up six groups to focus on cooperation in security, science and technology and IT.

The two countries are exploring the possibility of Indian investment in Kuwait's petroleum sector.

The visit by Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz Al-Saud in New Delhi in January, the first by a Saudi ruler in 38 years, also gave a major thrust to bilateral relations.

The two sides are discussing large value joint projects and enhancing the exchange of high-level visits. In this regard, the Saudi ministers of health and education will be undertaking trips to India soon.

Trade with all these countries is burgeoning, officials in the External Affairs Ministry said, adding efforts would continue to keep the pace on.

First Published: Sep 17, 2006 16:19 IST