Indian workers stranded for six years sent home
One hundred Indian workers stranded in Bahrain for six years will be allowed to return home after their former employer, Nass Corporation, reached an agreement with the Indian Embassy.
The Manama-based conglomerate said it had agreed to withdraw the case against the employees it accused of “absconding from work” following a dispute over wages in 2006.
“As a matter of goodwill gesture… [the Nass Corporation] confirmed that it will withdraw all court cases pending against runaway workers,” the firm said in an emailed statement.
A Bahrain court ordered the employees to pay fines ranging from US$1,061 to US$1,591 for losses incurred by the firm by violating their contracts after Nass filed a suit against them when they did not show up for work.
Many workers left the company but only realised they could not exit the country when they attempted to leave in 2010 during an amnesty for illegal workers.
Nass denied it had not paid them the agreed salary, claiming it had a “strict policy of written employment agreement with all candidates of their salaries and related facilities prior to their induction into the company”.
The agreement comes less than a month after Shanker Mariappan established an online petition calling for their release, after his brother – one of the stranded men – committed suicide in a public garden in Bahrain.
“Living in misery and without hope of escape people like my brother are left with one option: suicide,” Mariappan wrote on his website, Avaaz.com.
“The Indian Embassy has asked Nass to lift the travel ban on its remaining 100 workers so they can return home, but they’re refusing to listen. To save the lives of men like my brother, I have a plan to hit Nass where it hurts, but it will take the support of people from across India,” he added.
Bahrain, like much of the Gulf region, depends on foreign workers to fill jobs at all levels of the economy. The Gulf state is home to around 90,000 Indian expatriates, the majority of who work as blue-collar labour force, according to the country’s Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs.