V K Singh visits Saudi Arabia to help laid-off workers


Minister of State for External Affairs General VK Singh had gone to Saudi Arabia to look into the issues pertaining to “repatriation” and “relocation within Saudi Arabia”.

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Last Month, Singh had visited Saudi Arabia for couple of days. He had also visited the camps in Jeddah on Thursday. “He listened to the concerns of migrant workers. He will meet Saudi authorities to resolve the issues,” an Indian diplomat in Riyadh said.

“Welfare of Indian workers in Saudi Arabia was a priority. They said that after Singh’s discussions with Saudi authorities, they had agreed to speed up the process of repatriation of workers willing to return, and also assist those who wish to relocate to other companies in Saudi Arabia,” officials said.

MEA spokesperson Vikas Swarup said: “The important thing to remember is (that) no third option is available to Indian workers belonging to these three companies. So MoS Gen V K Singh is in Saudi Arabia because there are some issues which need to be addressed, so that the retrenched workers either seek alternate employment or return to India. Because some people do not want to exercise either of these two options, so he is there to try and reach out to them — to impress upon them to cooperate and facilitate in this process.”

“Saudi authorities have already issued instructions to maintain cleanliness, provide electricity, water supply and medical facilities at the camps where Indians are staying and a local caterer is also providing them food now”, officials said.

After VK Singh’s discussion with the authorities, a committee has been setup to look into the claims of workers.

“A Crisis Management Group has also been set up by the Ministry of Labour to settle all issues related to Indian workers. The Ministry will also appoint a lawyer,” an official said.

He added, “So workers who have not been paid for several months, even if they choose to return to India… their claims regarding unpaid wages will be lodged and pursued by Saudi authorities.”

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