US job racket agents’ licences suspended

March 11th, 2008 - 6:33 pm ICT by admin  


New Delhi, March 11 (IANS) The ministry of overseas Indian affairs has suspended the licences of two Mumbai-based recruiting agents who sent Indian workers to a US marine construction company and have been charged with human trafficking. Following a campaign by the workers in the US, the ministry has ordered an inquiry against Dewan Consultants and S. Mansur and Company, the two recruiting agents.

“We have suspended their licences till the inquiry is complete. If the report finds them guilty, their registration will be cancelled,” said a MOIA senior official.

According to the MOIA 2007 list, Dewan Consultants has a registration (78/BOM/COM/1000PLUS/3/621/84) valid till October 2014, while S. Mansur and Company’s registration (277/BOM/PER/1000PLUS/3/966/84) lapsed Feb 13, 2008.

Over 100 Indian workers March 6 walked out of the premises of Signal International in Pascagoula, Mississippi, supported by two NGOs, the Workers Centre for Racial Justice and the Alliance for Guest Workers for Dignity.

According to officials, about 590 Indian skilled workers were brought to the marine construction company’s Pascagoula headquarters and yards in Texas on H2B guest worker visa for a period of 10 months from December 2006.

The recruitments were done through Global Resources, which is headed by Mississippi sheriff’s deputy Michael Pol, and Indian recruiter Dewan Consultants.

The workers were unhappy at the poor living conditions, as up to two dozen of them were bunched into a single dormitory and expenses on food and electricity were deducted from their salaries. The workers were also angry that the recruiters had charged them between Rs.600,000 to Rs.900,000 as commission on the promise that they will get long-term employment or green card.

A similar issue erupted earlier in March 2007 when workers’ protests took place. Following the negative publicity, Signal International reportedly increased the workers’ salary to $19.15 per hour and terminated its contract with Global Resources.

Following the uproar, several workers left the company and got jobs in other firms, while some others went absconding. A few workers also engaged lawyers to file applications for work permit and green card.

Officials estimate that about 100 workers remained in Pascagoula, and 40-50 in Orange County, Texas.

The remaining workers apparently continued with Signal in the hope that their visas would be extended, which was not done. Meanwhile, Signal contracted S. Mansur and Company to arrange for another set of workers from India.

Minister of Overseas Indian Affairs Vayalar Ravi has offered all help to the Indian workers and also spoken to them by phone. The workers and their attorney have sued the US company as well as the recruitment agents for human trafficking.

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