India, Bahrain to sign labour welfare pact in December

November 13th, 2008 - 7:30 pm ICT by IANS  

Abu Dhabi, Nov 13 (IANS) India and Bahrain will sign a labour welfare agreement next month to ensure the safety and security of the large number of Indian workers in that Gulf nation.”I will be signing the labour welfare agreement when I visit Bahrain in the first week of December,” Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs Vayalar Ravi said at a media interaction here Thursday.

“Following the signing of the pact with Bahrain, Saudi Arabia will be the only country in the Gulf left for India to sign such an agreement,” said Ravi, who is here for a meeting with the United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) Labour Minister Saqr Gobash.

There are around 290,000 expatriate Indians in Bahrain and a large number of them are working as contracted labourers in that country’s booming construction industry.

Bahrain will be the fifth country in the Gulf, home to over 4.8 million Indians, with which India will have such an agreement.

India first signed a labour welfare agreement with Qatar way back in 1975, an additional protocol to which was signed last year.

In 2006, another such agreement was signed with Kuwait followed by one with the UAE this year.

During Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s two-nation tour of the Gulf Nov 8-10, India and Oman signed an agreement in the field of manpower designed to check illegal recruitment and human trafficking and creating employment opportunities for Indians in that country.

Ravi also hailed a new initiative by the UAE to launch a pilot project aimed at improving the living and working conditions of expatriate Asian workers in this Gulf nation.

At the Global Forum for Migration and Development held in Manila last month, Labour Minister Gobash had announced the pilot project, which, he said, would involve 3,000 Indian and Filipino workers.

“I congratulate the UAE for launching this project. I am personally very happy and we will extend full cooperation from our side,” Ravi said.

There are around 1.5 million expatriate Indians in the UAE.

According to Gobash, the governments of the UAE, India and the Philippines will collaborate towards the development of the project with expert inputs from the Arab Labour Organisation, the International Labour Organisation and the International Organisation on Migration.

The overall goal of the project is to test a range of practical measures that will serve to improve the quality of life and work of contractual workers.

The project seeks to improve the quality of recruitment, induction and other pre-deployment processes, and then to provide the workers with decent working and living conditions during their temporary contractual employment and residency in the host country.

India’s Ambassador to the UAE Talmiz Ahmad said the pilot project will involve two major labour sending countries - India and the Philippines - and one major labour receiving country, the UAE.

“This (pilot project) is called ‘Managing Migration’ and is still at a very early stage,” he said.

“Managing migration means two things. Number one, how you look after people when they have arrived in your country. And number two, how you look after them when they have gone back to their country,” Ahmad stated, adding that the second part involves issues like counselling for people who return to their country and face difficulties in finding a job.

The project is part of the Abu Dhabi Dialogue, a series of continuing joint meetings between major labour sending and labour receiving countries.

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