GDN: STRANDED worker, whose family members are in critical condition at a hospital in India, may leave Bahrain soon.
Raju Doggiya along with his colleagues protested outside the Indian Embassy on Tuesday for allegedly being under a travel ban imposed in 2006.
The move followed the death of his brother in a tragic accident in which other family members were injured on Monday, but he was unable to return home for the funeral.
Mr Doggiya's father, wife and son are said to have suffered critical injuries in the accident.
The men came to Bahrain to work for Abdulla Nass Construction Company, which lodged a complaint against them years ago for not showing up for work, according to the workers.
They say a court ordered the employees to pay compensation ranging from BD400 to BD600 for violating their contracts, allegedly incurring losses for the company.
However, the men left the firm long before they discovered they were subject to a travel ban.
They only found out they were stuck here when they tried to leave Bahrain last year during an amnesty for illegal workers, added the spokesman.
An Indian Embassy official told the GDN it was in contact with the company and was seeking urgent permission for Mr Doggiya to return home.
"We went to the company lawyer, who took us to court, prepared some legal documents and then we went to immigration," said a worker.
"The immigration officials have asked us to bring an out pass and an air ticket and they would tell us when he can go home.
"He is desperate to go for his brothers' funeral and to see his family members, who are still being treated in the hospital.
"They all want to go home, but we want to send him first, as his family is struck by a tragedy."
The men come from Punjab and Andhra Pradesh in India, and claim they had to pay around BD800 to secure a visa.
They claim they were promised a monthly salary of around BD100, but were paid just BD45 and had to take on extra jobs to make ends meet.
The embassy has now forwarded their case to a law firm in a bid to resolve the dispute, although the official said the workers didn't know about any court verdict.
A lawyer handling the case told the GDN a hearing had been scheduled for June 26.
A company spokesman yesterday said they hadn't done anything illegal in the case of these employees.
"As per Labour Law, the sponsor is bound to inform the respective authority any case of absconding employees," said the spokesman.
"If any such employee gets caught working elsewhere, the sponsor will be penalised, which may lead to an offence on our commercial registration.
"We in fact wait for a period of more than two weeks to see if they come back to work.
"If not, we are forced to register them at the Labour Ministry and Interior Ministry as 'absconding' and also refer all such cases to our legal consultants who handle the cases on a legal basis on our behalf.
"We need to recover all the losses incurred by the unauthorised absenteeism of these employees such as the labour fees.
"It is the court, not the company, which has studied and decided each case as per its merit and issued verdicts accordingly.
"All our employees have contracts, mutually agreed and signed, and there is nothing secretive about them.
"We do not know whether the recruiting agencies have promised them higher salaries, for which we are not responsible.
"If the employee had any dispute on these, they could have and should have approached the embassy with their complaints, if any, and not absent themselves from work and work elsewhere.
"They should have come to us in the first month of their arrival with their complaints, and not wait for a year or more, and then abscond.
"The company gave concessions on the court verdict and allowed them to return to India.
"In spite of all these opportunities offered to them by Bahrain, workers still refuse to make use of the opportunities.
"We have several cases in the past, where we have shown our sympathy and dropped the court cases on deserving cases, because of the healthy relationship that exists between Bahrain and India.
"We are happy that most of our employees are of Indian nationality and they are involved in senior administrative and highly technical jobs in the entire group.
"We have expat Indians who are with us for more than 20 years.
"This is clear proof of the fact that our employees are happy and satisfied with the terms of their employment and to be a part of the group."