CHENNAI: The families of two Indian migrant workers, Antony George Vincent and Sahaya Celso, are seeking assistance in locating their family members who have been out of touch from family since 17th October 2022.
The two men were working as fishermen in Bahrain went on a fishing trip and never returned. Their employer has launched an investigation, and the Indian Embassy in Bahrain has also made efforts to find the missing workers. However, the family is requesting the government to help them find their family members.
Local fishermen in Iran claimed to have heard a wireless message indicating that someone has taken the missing workers to the Iran Coast Guard Military Police at SIRAF Military Camp. Their families have also received a message from some Iranian fishermen, stating that they had seen the boats floating on the sea. The families of the missing workers have appealed to the government (Embassies in Bahrain and Iran, CM cell, and the Minister of Minorities) to take immediate action to address this issue and rescue the migrant workers.
The family reached out to Tamil Nadu Domestic Workers' Welfare Trust and the trust is also helping them reach the right authorities in this case. However, despite their best efforts, no information has been found regarding their whereabouts. The families have also reached out to other fishermen and social workers in Bahrain and Iran for help in locating the missing men.
Chief functionary of Tamil Nadu Domestic Workers’ Welfare Trust, Valarmathi said that migrant workers from India are extorted and cheated by agents. "Unauthorised agents have been cheating innocent workers by claiming to provide jobs in foreign countries and getting lakhs of rupees to get them a job abroad. We request the government to take notice of this issue. There is an issue of wage theft among overseas migrant workers and many migrants who have filed complaints against employers for wage theft have still not received their due wages and benefits."
The association has urged for the intervention from the government as they say that justice mechanisms are too slow and not enough to address the huge number of complaints and cases coming in.
"We strengthen our call for an urgent justice mechanism, through the global civil society campaign of Justice for Wage Theft, to expedite the process and disburse the claims of migrant workers. There are several issues that lies within the term migration and there is an immediate need attention from the Union Government as well."
They demand that Indian government should set up an online complaints mechanism, a walk-in option, and a 24-hour hotline, in missions to document cases accurately. The government should set up help centers at national/state-level for returnee workers to recover their unpaid wages. The source and destination countries should develop standard bilateral agreements to protect the rights of migrant workers. A compensation fund should be created to ensure justice to migrant workers who underwent issues of wage theft.
The association also demands a 'migrant labour rights violation monitoring mechanism' which includes missions, representatives of the destination country, civil society and observers from the regional mechanism.
The workers have also been requesting the government to ensure providing pre departure training for low skilled labourers before they migrate to other countries. The government should also ensure to safeguard the returnee migrants and bring reintegration programmes at the State level
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