India, Saudi to discuss labour issues

November 06, 2012 - 6:50:22 am

New Delhi: After a delay of over eight months, Saudi Arabia and India yesterday agreed to discuss issues relating to the over two million Indian labourers working in the Gulf nation and also to sign agreements in this regard at a later date.

This is viewed by India as a major breakthrough in securing the interests of its migrant labourers, who go to Saudi Arabia for employment, and also to put in place a system to match the skills of eligible workers and the needs of the Saudi employers.

Saudi Arabian Labour Minister Engineer Adel bin Muhammad Fakieh and Indian Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs Vayalar Ravi agreed to continue the discussions on the memorandum of understandings on labourers and to sign the deals soon.

The Saudi minister had called on Ravi at his office here to hold talks that went on for about half-an-hour.

“We agreed to continue the discussions on the workers and their problems,” Ravi told reporters after the talks.

The officials on both sides will discuss and draft the agreements before they are signed, Ravi said.

“The issues have been pending for the last eight to nine months. This is a great opportunity to discuss this issue. This is a great beginning,” the Indian minister said in the presence of the Saudi minister. However, Ravi said there were not too many problems that India labourers were facing Indians in Saudi Arabia, as of today. “But occasionally, recruiting agents hire people generally and when they land in Saudi Arabia the situation is different. To avoid such eventualities, we want everything from recruitment to work conditions to be perfect,” he added.

The Saudi Arabian minister, noting that the Indian work force was the largest from abroad, said there generally were “good conditions and relations” between them and the Saudi employers.

“The disputes between Saudi employers and Indian employees are the lowest,” he noted.

But Saudi Arabia would “like to have an understanding” so that problems of the workers and the employers on both sides can be solved in a systematic manner, he said. “We will put through this framework so we can continue the dialogue,” he added.

On problems faced by Saudi employers, Adel Fakieh said there had been complaints of a mismatch between the skill sets that the recruited employees claimed and had when they landed for work. “We would like to prevent this from happening by having a system of certification of skill levels before they leave for employment in Saudi Arabia,” he added.