Par panel wants mechanism to save overseas Indian workers from exploitation

A parliamentary panel has urged the ministries of external affairs, labour and employment, and home, along with state governments, to develop a strong mechanism to protect overseas Indian workers from exploitation and punish the unregistered agents who lure them.

The Standing Committee on Labour, in its report, tabled in Parliament on overseas employment of women workers including nurses and maids, issues and regulatory framework, said it has come to light that thousands of workers are lured in the name of overseas jobs by illegal agents and are exploited in foreign countries.

The panel, headed by BJP MP Kirit Somaiya, said the government departments in India, including state governments, state police, ministries of home and external affairs, do not "proactively" accept the complaints of such people, thus leaving them helpless in a foreign land.

Some of the major complaints of overseas workers are non-payment of salaries, denial of legitimate labour rights, longer working hours, non-provision of medical and insurance facilities, confinement or abandoning of maids, it noted.

The Committee said it has observed that in a large number of cases, unregistered or unscrupulous agents send uneducated and semi-educated persons on tourist and other such visas, and not on the legal work visas/permit, to foreign countries by promising lucrative employment opportunities upon extracting substantial sums from them.

Thereafter, these workers, including women, are left in the foreign soil at the mercy of private employers, it said.

The panel said it has felt that a strong mechanism for grievance redressal and penalties or punishment to unscrupulous agents needed to be developed immediately in coordination with the Ministry of External Affairs, Ministry of Labour and Employment and Ministry of Home Affairs, along with state governments.

The committee said it has strongly recommended that such a mechanism should be developed and made public to save overseas workers from exploitation and to take strong action against those unscrupulous or unregistered agents who lure them.

It also recommended setting up of cells as well as appointment of a nodal officer for the purpose by all state governments, the report added.

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