GDN: MORE than 50 expatriates allegedly stranded in Bahrain for up to five years will finally be reunited with their families after the case against them was withdrawn.
Workers at the Abdulla Nass Contracting Company were slapped with a travel ban after the firm lodged a complaint against them for reportedly not showing up for work.
A court earlier ordered the men to pay compensation ranging from BD400 to BD600 for violating their contracts.
However, the men claimed they left the firm long before they discovered they were subject to a travel ban, which they only learnt about when they tried to leave Bahrain during last year's amnesty for illegal workers.
The workers are expected to travel home next week after completing the legal formalities.
Company managing director Samir Nass confirmed the case against the workers had been dropped.
"We have withdrawn the case against these workers, after speaking to the Indian Ambassador Mohan Kumar and other officials," he said.
"We feel that doing this will encourage other workers not to follow these workers and disappear from work.
"The problem is when the workers receive BD1 or BD2 extra by working extra hours outside, which is illegal, they will run for it without thinking they already have a contract with the company.
"The company had to face the consequences as we had already paid for their visas and tickets.
"When they sign a contract through an agent they know their salaries and even then they complain and say they need better wages.
"And then we as a company have to suffer, as we can't find a replacement for them and keep on paying the authorities.
"We had to pay their General Organisation for Social Insurance, Labour Market Regularity Authority and other visa expenses."
Mr Nass said the firm had dropped the case against the workers on humanitarian grounds.
"We have dropped the case on humanitarian basis and we hope it won't happen again," he said.
The workers were delighted to be able to finally leave Bahrain.
"We are all very excited to go back and meet our families after so many years," said one of those stranded.
"We were unable to travel because of the ban, but now we thank the company for withdrawing the case against us all.
"Now we will finally be able to travel after completing legal formalities according to the Bahrain immigration law."
The company's actions were also welcomed by Latheesh Bharathan from the Maha Jaber law firm, which followed the case through the Civil Appeals Court.
"It's really good to know the company has withdrawn the case against these workers," he said.
"Our firm worked very hard and I would say thanks to the company and Indian Embassy for their co-operation in resolving the matter."
The company earlier waived the fine against Raju Doggiya to allow him to return home after his brother died in a car accident.
The men from Punjab and Andhra Pradesh, in India, claim they paid around BD800 to secure a work visa.
They say 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.
A total of 128 workers were originally included in the ban, but only 54 came forward seeking help.
No information was available about what happened to the others affected.