Dubai, July 24, 2020: Thirty workers from the northern Indian state of Rajasthan, who were unable to board a repatriation flight due to pending fines, have been assisted by the Indian Consulate in Dubai.
These workers were stranded in the airport for four days after they failed to board a repatriation flight last Friday. After hearing their plight, the Indian Consulate in Dubai came to their rescue and arranged for them to move to a labour accommodation by their company on Tuesday.
Speaking to Gulf News, the construction company workers said they were scheduled to board a charter flight that was repatriating stranded Indians to Jaipur on July 17.
However, they said only 10 out of 40 could clear the immigration and fly home while the rest of them failed to do so due to their pending fines.
“Some of us are on visit visas while some others’ residence visas have already expired. We didn’t know we would have to pay fines. Some have fines of about Dh10,000 to Dh11,000 while others have smaller amount of fines,” said one of the workers, who appealed for help to the consulate through Gulf News.
The workers claimed they were not paid for three to seven months.
“The company had booked our tickets. But, when we couldn’t fly, they asked us to go back to the accommodation. There was no point in going back to the empty rooms where we spent months without salaries. We had already given away all our foodstuff to other workers in the neighbouring accommodations,” said one worker.
Workers said they were given Dh100 each by the company when they were at the airport and they managed to buy some food with that money.
Neeraj Agrawal, consul for Press, Information and Culture at the Indian Consulate told Gulf News that the workers informed the mission that two of them had gone back to their accommodation and found the place empty. “That is why they refused to go back. Anyhow, we called the company representatives and asked them to arrange alternate accommodation for them and repatriate them at the earliest,” he said.
Following this, the workers, who were stranded for four days, were shifted to another accommodation in Al Quoz.
Agrawal said the mission provided food items for the workers while the company was asked to arrange bedding materials and kitchen utensils.
The workers on Thursday said they managed to cook food with the utensils borrowed from the neighbouring rooms in the labour accommodation while the company arranged some mattresses on Thursday.
A company representative said the management had once again booked their tickets for the workers on another repatriation flight scheduled on July 27.
“We are trying to send them back on Monday from Abu Dhabi as our company is headquartered there and the visas are issued from Abu Dhabi. We had to repatriate them because the project in which they were working got cancelled and we couldn’t legalise their status due to the COVID-19 situation,” he claimed.
Will the fines be waived?
The executive added that the company was working on the documentation process to get the workers’ fines waived. “We are hopeful that we can get their fines waived as per the new announcement about the cancellation of fines for people whose visas expired before March 1,” he added.
However, Agrawal said the mission was yet to receive documents from the company for the fine waiver system announced for the Indians. He stressed that the management should help the workers by providing their documents for availing the waiver of fines and also do the necessary COVID-19 test for taking the workers to Abu Dhabi if they wish to repatriate the workers from the capital.