Families of stranded Pakistanis in Saudi Arabia get cheques

The Minister, who visited a workers' camp in Jeddah on Friday evening, said the workers will be able to receive their pending arrears from the company while in Saudi Arabia or upon their return to India. "The problem was the result of an individual act by one company (Saudi Oger). But let me repeat, this was an isolated case, not a trend or some phenomenon existing across other companies".

He said a little more time will be required to have full clarity on how many Indians want to come home and how many would like to remain in Saudi Arabia to pursue employment with other companies etc. Swarup categorised the problems being faced by Indian workers into four segments such as wage claims, relocation, repatriation and conditions of the Indians living in various labour camps.

The government has also sent a top diplomat to Saudi Arabia to assist stranded workers. "So where is the problem?" he said to The Hindu.

"Workers who wish to transfer their services can request the ministry of labor for grant of a 3 month temporary resident permit cum labor card", said Swarup. "As you can see, due to our excellent relationship with Saudi Arabia and efforts made at the highest level, things are in control and this humanitarian issue is being handled with utmost care and consideration", said Swarup.

THOUSANDS of Filipino workers stranded in Saudi Arabia can now return to the country after Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud issued a royal decree waiving the penalties for foreign workers affected by a massive layoff and retrenchment. "It is only through diplomatic talks that the unresolved issues such as unpaid salaries and benefits, expired work and residency permits, as well as the need for regular food and water supply can be taken up by both governments", the Ople Center said.

Meanwhile a Philippines foreign department statement said that the first batch of Philippine officials will fly to Saudi Arabia on Wednesday "to provide immediate humanitarian, legal, and other consular assistance to the overseas Filipino workers stranded in labor camps across the Kingdom. It is not 800 as is being reported", Ms Swaraj tweeted even as Gen. Singh left for Riyadh on a mission they dubbed "No Indian left behind".

Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. and Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello met with Saudi Ambassador to Manila Dr. Abdullah Bin Nasser Al Bussairy on August 3 to assess the extent of the problem and facilitate assistance to the displaced workers.

Earlier, the workers greeted the minister with slogans of "V.K. Singh Zindabad", and also when he was leaving.

Ambassador Al-Sati said that figures crossing 10,000 workers affected were "initial reports, but after investigation we realised that the numbers of those affected are approximately 2,500".

Responding to the accusation that Saudi Arabia has a record of promoting religious extremism and hatred of Israel around the world, he said: "We're trying to go ahead with the positive side of this". "Obviously, if some complain, then the government is bound to listen and wish to help".

Vanessa Coleman

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