Ranchi/Kolkata: At least 35 migrant workers from Bengal and nine from Jharkhand remain stranded in the Indian Embassy, Malaysia. Neither is the company that employed them paying their dues nor is the Indian Embassy officials persuading the company to clear their dues so that they can be sent back to India.
Almost 11 months back, 44 workers from Bengal and Jharkhand had been hired by Malaysia’s Lead Master Engineering & Construction Company. Following which they travelled to Malaysia and began working for the company, but after some time, they learnt that were not getting their salaries, as promised. As per their contract or letter of appointment, these Indians had been promised a monthly salary of 1800 Ringgit but were only getting 900 or 1000 Ringgit and that too, not on time. One Ringgit amounts to INR 16.30.
Their passports were also seized by the company. However, somehow they reached the Indian Embassy in Malaysia in the month of February, seeking the help of Government of India (GoI).
Since then these workers have been kept at the embassy’s labour cell, which is located almost 100 kilometres away from it. However, their problems didn’t end here, the workers, who contact social activists back in Jharkhand have complained of having being subjected to an inhumane living condition in this labour cell. They have alleged that at times even water supply is cut off and they have to buy water from their own money. The workers could not go out on their own and forced to live inside only.
“Even after being in Embassy for over 25 days, nobody has informed us about any development. We have no idea about what is going on,” informed Bhim Mahto, one of the labours stranded in Malaysia, to eNewsroom, over a WhatsApp call that he made from Kuala Lumpur.
The incident had got highlighted when these workers posted a video in a WhatsApp group, meant for migrant workers, and appealed to its admin Sikander Ali to rescue them.
“There were two more labours from Jharkhand, stranded here. But they are old employees and their visa tenure was ending so they had been sent back to the embassy. However, our company still needs to clear our dues. They owe us about two-three month’s salary. We do not want to work with the company, but before going to India, we want our dues cleared,” stated Mahto, who was almost on the verge to break down while speaking.
Mahto also informed that the condition of 35 workers from Bengal was also the same. He also maintained that with time passing, their condition was getting worse.
One Bikash Mahto, who works in Malaysia with some other company is mediating between the workers and Lead Master company authorities claimed, “The company may send workers back but there are still not assuring regarding clearing their dues.”
But most surprising is the indifferent attitude of Embassy officials. When the matter was reported in India, the embassy had tweeted, claiming that they are negotiating with the company, but thereafter no further development has been reported, barring the returning of two Jharkhand origin workers .
The workers who are at the mercy of embassy officials also cited, ‘cut’ behind the delay as the reason. “Some officials demanding their share in our dues, to pursue the company,” said a worker.
It seems, Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj’s immediate interference is the need of the hour to expedite the returning of helpless migrant workers.