//Qatar : Harassed Indian workers seek help

Qatar : Harassed Indian workers seek help

Source ::: The Peninsula/ by Salim Matramkot, 1/24/2006

Doha: Some Indian workers alleged yesterday that at least 20 to 50 of them were force to share portacabins each in the company’s lodging in the Industrial Area.

They also claimed that about 800 of them were sharing 11 toilets, three of which were not in use. The complaints were part of a case of Indian managers exploiting workers from their own country that was reported to the embassy of India here yesterday.

An Indian from Kerala, who is a managing partner in a contracting company, was accused by a dozen low-paid fellow Keralites of not paying them the salaries and perks that were promised.

The workers, some 11 of them who approached the embassy yesterday, were all aluminium fabricators from Triprayar in Thrissur district of Kerala and the person who is alleged to have taken commission on the huge sums allegedly squeezed from each of them to provide jobs in Qatar, is also from their own district.

His name was given by the workers as Mohandas and he runs an aluminium fabrication unit in Triprayar by the name of Excel Aluminium Institute.

The workers said that one of their colleagues, Ramdas, had developed psychological problems since he borrowed a large sum on higher interest to pay to Mohandas to get the job here. Now, he does not know how he could possibly repay the loan since he and his colleagues remain unpaid despite working for the company regularly.

The workers said that although they came through a Bombay-based recruiting agency, Mallika Overseas in Charni Road, they gave cash to a staffer of Mallika Overseas, Murali. Mohandas allegedly took a commission.

The company, the workers said, employed some 800 workers, a majority of whom are Indians. "At least 20 to 50 of us share small rooms each in portacabins at the company’s lodging-cum-workshop at Street No 31 in the Industrial Area," said one of the workers.

According to him, the 800 workers were sharing 11 toilets, three of which were out of use. "We have to get up at 2am to wait in the queue in front of the toilets," he said.

The embassy has taken the complaint seriously and said the issue would be raised with the local authorities as well as the human rights committee. The workers said they were scared of the company and feared reprisal since a foreman had threatened that the company would file a false police complaint if they approached the embassy.

"There is no need for you to fear anyone," second secretary at the embassy, Ramesh Chandra, told the workers.