Check firm’s antecedents before joining: Indian embassy in Qatar

September 2nd, 2008 - 7:31 pm ICT by IANS  

Dubai, Sep 2 (IANS) The Indian embassy in Qatar has urged all Indian workers seeking employment in that Gulf nation to check the antecedents of the company recruiting them before taking up a job.The embassy’s advice comes following a recent case in which over a hundred Indian workers had to return home after the company which recruited them lost a major contract for which they were given employment.

“This is not the first or the last case in which people are cheated by recruitment agencies,” Sanjiv Kohli, minister at the Indian embassy, told the local media.

India’s Ambassador to Qatar George Joseph said many of the workers get to know that they do not have valid employment contracts only after arriving in the country.

“Qatar government insists that a certain format should be kept for the contracts. Most of the contracts will be full of grammatical mistakes and they (the workers) come with really a piece of paper without any value or power,” he was quoted as saying.

In the recent case, 107 Indian workers had to return home after the company, which hired them, lost a major contract and had to utilize them in work other than what they had been recruited for.

A majority of those recruited were skilled workers like technicians, welders, riggers and fielders, but they were allegedly given unskilled labour jobs.

The majority of the workers had paid Rs.50,000 to Rs.60,000 to a recruiting agent in Vishakapatnam in Andhra Pradesh for the jobs.

Other workers hailed from Kerala and Mumbai.

The men were promised salaries ranging from 1,200 Qatari riyals ($329.5) to QR1,500 ($412).

However, on arrival, they alleged, they were given a one-time payment of QR300 ($82.5) and asked to do petty jobs.

When they lodged their protest with the embassy, it got in touch with the company and arranged for the return of all the 107 workers.

The ambassador said that his mission could not take any action against the recruitment agent without any proof.

“In most of the cases, the people do not have any evidence that they had paid huge amount to the recruitment agency. The embassy cannot do much in such cases,” he said.

“We cannot level charges against any recruitment agency as they can file a case of libel or defamation in courts in India in the absence of any proof. Indians insist on receipt for all the minor expenses, but while paying huge amounts, they do not care to get a receipt or proof of the payment.”

He added that people do not even bother to take a photograph when the exchange of money between the recruiting agent and the job seeker takes place.

As for harassment of workers by employers in Qatar, Joseph said that the embassy preferred to sort out such issues through negotiations by directly approaching the companies concerned rather than dragging them to the labour court.

“Thus we could sometimes ensure that there is no harassment of workers by their employers when an issue is really on,” he said.

There are around 420,000 expatriate Indians in Qatar and most of them are engaged as contract labourers in that country’s booming construction industry.

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