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India U-turn on wages for workers in Gulf

New Delhi, March 4, 2008

India has no intention of prescribing a minimum wage for Indian workers abroad, Bahrain in particular, a senior official was quoted as saying.

The Indian Embassy in Bahrain had earlier issued notification, quoting the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs (MOIA), fixing the minimum monthly wage limit for unskilled Indian workers at BD100 from March 1.

The notification, however, was put on hold pending clarification from New Delhi.

'We will be sending a clarification to the ambassador soon on this subject,' MOIA joint secretary (financial services) G Gurucharan told news agencies in New Delhi.

He said that India had earlier given the power to Indian ambassadors in various countries to prescribe the minimum wage for women workers between $300 and $350 'based on local conditions'.

'The reason that we prescribed the wage limit for women workers was they were not covered under local labour laws,' said Gurucharan.

He also clarified that Overseas Indian Affairs Minister Vayalar Ravi's statement on minimum wages was exclusively for women workers.

The senior official noted that India has been 'concerned over erosion of real wages of all nationalities due to rising inflation'.

At the same time, India felt that wages for labourers of general categories, who have certain protection under local laws, should be 'driven by the market economy'.

Bahrain's booming construction industry was hit last month by a spate of strikes by foreign workers, many of them Indians, demanding better wages and living and working conditions.




Tags: Gulf | indian workers | minimum wage |

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