Job agents trick 21 from the region with promises of well-paying job in Abu Dhabi
Chasing dreams of a better living abroad, nine persons from villages here, saw their bubble burst as they returned with bitter experiences and mounting loans.
After days of uncertainty and absolute penury, there was visible relief as the nine planted their feet on Indian soil on Tuesday. Mohammad Noushad, from Ullal, Abdul Javed from Koppa (Chikmagalur district), Jagadish Naik from Honnawar, Mohammad Ashraf from Ullal, Hussain Zachariah from Padubidri, Abdul Rahim from Manjeshwar, Mohammad Bashir from Uppinangadi, Raghava Poojary from Honnala (Udupi district) and Fairoze Munnava from Koppa – all under 35 years – narrate their tale of torment and despair in Abu Dhabi.
Around four months ago, they were approached by various agents, who ultimately put them on to Sayyed, who operates from Kudroli in the city.
In all, around 21 persons paid between Rs. 55,000 and Rs. 1 lakh (no receipts were given to any of them) for the promise of a well-paying job in the Emirate.
“The agent promised a job in Royal Palace hotel as office boys, with a monthly payment of 1,250 dirham. Food and stay was included and over-time payment was promised,” said Abdul Javed (28), who pledged gold and took a loan from a small-time financier.
On September 17, the day they landed there, the group of labourers received their first shock. Contrary to the promises, they were being taken to a dates factory away from Abu Dhabhi, and the salary was halved.
“They said we will get paid only 650 dirham, and they will not provide for food or medical insurance,” said Mr. Javed. Even the accommodation provided saw six of them squeeze into one room.
Unhappy, and clearly dejected, the nine of them approached labour court – the rest relenting and joining the company or taking up work elsewhere.
Faced with a summons, the company agreed to increase pay to 950 dirham, and put them up in Abu Dhabhi itself.
However, they were made to clean the roads and prune trees, while the accommodation was like a “slum” with “terrible sanitary facilities”.
“When we protested again on October 3, the company threw us out,” said Mr. Javed, and added, “When we asked for our passports back, they said we had to give one month’s salary and show them the ticket. They knew we couldn’t afford it.”
For three days then, with no where to go, the men resided on the roads there and subsisted only on water. Ultimately, they got in touch with a member of the Indian Fraternity Forum, an organisation of expatriates. “They approached the labour court again, and we got our passports back. They even funded our tickets,” said Md. Noushad.
The ordeal, however, is far from over. Each one faces daunting loans to repay – compounded by steep interests of small financiers. “We don’t know what we’ll do now. We’ll file a criminal case against all the agents, and hopefully recover some money,” said Mr. Javed.