Published On: Mon, Aug 17th, 2015

PM Modi highlights concern for labourers

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Damodardas Modi has used his visit to a construction labour camp in Abu Dhabi to highlight India’s concern about the welfare of its nationals working in the GCC construction sector.

A senior Indian government official told Reuters in New Delhi that PM Modi’s intention is to convey that the safety, security and welfare conditions for Indian workers should not be ignored.

The visit took place on day one of Modi’s two day visit to the UAE – the first of its kind for an Indian Prime Minister in 34 years. He was joined by Dr. Anwar bin Mohammed Gargash, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and head of the honorary mission.

The visit was organised to enable a conversation with the workers, where PM Modi thanked them for their hard work and dedication. Even though the PM addressed the workers, he made no contact with the media.

His visit is especially topical as controversy continues to surround the supply of foreign labour on projects for mega events such as Expo2020 and the FIFA World Cup 2022.

According to Indian embassy statistics, 2.6 million Indians expats in the UAE out of the total 9.5 million populations. The embassy states that about 60% of the Indian population are workers.

The Indian government as well as the UAE government have put improving the working conditions of workers in the region on the agenda. Last year, India launched a campaign for workers’ higher wages in the GCC to meet the higher living cost. While the UAE has imposed several measures including mid-day breaks for workers during the summer, improving healthcare facilities and accommodation. However, all these measures aren’t necessarily enough.

Salil Shetty, secretary-general of Amnesty International, told Reuters: “Lack of proper regulation by the authorities in both India and the UAE of the booming migrant-worker recruitment industry, including visa brokers, has allowed rogue recruiting agents to cause serious human rights abuses with impunity.”

Image courtesy of WAM – Emirates News Agency

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