Staff Reporter

Allege that they are being exploited by employer

Social group takes lead in highlighting their plight

Family members to petition Chief Minister

BHUBANESWAR: As many as 26 plumbers from Orissa’s Kendrapara district who were lured to Qatar with promise of jobs have sent an SOS to their family members requesting to rescue them from clutches of ‘exploitative employer.’

The plumbers all aged between 22 years and 32 years have urged their family members to mobilise support for their release otherwise they would commit suicide en masse.

The kith and kin of the plumbers came to the Capital City on Wednesday through a social organisation, Ambedkar-Lohia Vichar Manch (ALVM) to highlight their plight in the media.

Fax message

As per the fax message sent by the plumbers, they had paid Rs 60,000 each to a Bhubaneswar-based placement agency to arrange visa and job for them in the Middle East in March.

But subsequently, the agency delayed matters and did not provide jobs to these aspirants as promised by it. “Due to the delay, a plumber had even committed suicide,” Rabi Behera of ALVM said.

They were finally given job assurances on June 18. But again, they had to stay jobless in Mumbai for 18 days on their way to Qatar.

“My son was offered Rs. 11,500 in Indian currency per month with 10 hours work per day. They were promised free accommodation, overtime, air passage facility by employer after two years,” Rabindra Nath Sethi from the Raj Nagar area said.

One Al Obaidly Est International Relations of Qatar was presented as the employer but when they stepped on foreign soil, the agency kept all their passports, Mr. Sethi, whose son is among the plumbers in distress, said. All the 26 plumbers were finally employed in Qatar Building Engineering Company (QBEC), Mr. Behera said.

In the fax message, the plumbers said they were being forced to work in inhospitable condition for 14 hours with no remuneration. Family members also alleged that their relatives were given accommodation under asbestos roof, which was painful.

Uttam Khuntia said his relative had called up describing as to how three Sri Lankan labourers were hacked to death when they protested against exploitation.

“Under these circumstances, they are very scared. They cannot voice their protest,” Mr. Khuntia said.

The family members have decided to appeal Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik to take up the issue at the highest level.