NIZAMABAD: The circulars issued by the ministry of external affairs, reducing the minimum referral wages (MRW) for Indian workers recruited for Gulf countries, have drawn flak from migrant workers and various associations of Gulf migrants.
They expressed the fear that the circulars would adversely affect the livelihood of 88 lakh Indian migrant workers in the Gulf countries.
The ministry issued two circulars on September 8 and 21, 2020. According to these, the minimum referral wages of Indians who works in Qatar, Bahrain, Oman or the UAE have been reduced to $200 (Rs 15,000) and in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia to $245 and $324 respectively.
The Central government’s decision to reduce minimum referral wages by 30 to 50 per cent risks the livelihoods of migrant workers, the associations complained. “It would also shatter the dreams of the current and prospective migrants from India.”
The Centre has been fixing minimum referral wages to regulate the wages of Indian migrant workers employed in countries falling under the category of Emigration Check Required (ECR). The rationale is that it ensures Indian migrant workers a decent minimum wage.
Migrant rights organisations in Telangana state have recorded testimonies of migrants who were promised higher wages prior to their departure which were later reduced following the issuance of the wage circulars in September last.
Speaking to Deccan Chronicle from New Delhi after meeting the minister of state for external affairs V Muraleedharan, Gulf migrants’ rights and welfare federation founder president Kotapati Narasimha Naidu said the minister has promised to roll back the circulars.
“The minister told us that it was in the interest of Indian workers that the government issued the circulars, which would protect workers vis-à-vis minimum wages during the Covid-19 pandemic,” he said.
According to the minister, taking advantage of Covid-19 impact, there was a fear that employers might exploit migrant workers. “We told the minister that there is always a demand for Indian workers and the government must revive the old wages structure. Muralidharan reacted positively,” Naidu said.
Gulf joint action committee convener Guggilla Ravi Goud, its other leaders Swadesh Parikipandla, Thota Dharmender and Veeraiah were present. They handed over a memorandum to the minister....