Deceived migrant workers in UAE forced to work as slaves – report

© Ahmed Jadallah
Some 100 migrants from Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka are stranded in Abu Dhabi after their employer refused to renew their work permits, Reuters reports. Forced to work without wages, they are pleading with their governments to bring them home.

Around 15 migrant workers from India’s Tamil Nadu province who are stuck at Ghayathi labor camp in the capital of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) claim they have been deliberately left with expired work permits, no money, and little food, Thomson Reuters Foundation reports.

“Our employment contract, visas, labor card and the resident identity card has expired, but the sponsor has not renewed them, forcing employees to work without wages,” they said in a video and a written appeal cited by Reuters, adding that there are nearly 100 workers from several countries in a similar predicament.

The migrants insist they have not been paid any wages since November last year. One of the workers' spouses said her husband has not been paid for nine months, and that she has not heard from him for a month.

“Please help us reunite with our families,” one of the Indian workers said.

According to data from the Indian government, up to six million Indians are currently working in the Persian Gulf states of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.

“We received their complaint a few days back and sent it to our mission in Abu Dhabi asking for immediate repatriation and ensuring the companies they were working for pay their salaries," an unidentified Indian foreign ministry official told Reuters.

Agents are trafficking workers from India to the Gulf States “with false promises and no proper documentation,” Josephine Valarmathi of the non-profit National Domestic Workers' Movement told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

“It's time the government investigated how workers are sent through these agencies without proper documentation,” Valarmathi said.

Migrant workers pay up to 200,000 rupees (US$3,000) to an agent in India to get a job in the Gulf States. The duped workers have provided a list of such agents who effectively sold them into slavery overseas, and demanded that action be taken against them.