Rescued labourers return home

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BACK AT LAST: The rescued labourers with Pon Kumar, Chairman, Construction Workers Welfare Board, at the Chennai airport on Saturday.
BACK AT LAST: The rescued labourers with Pon Kumar, Chairman, Construction Workers Welfare Board, at the Chennai airport on Saturday.

P. Oppili

Ordeal in Malaysia comes to an end for 30 semi-skilled workers

CHENNAI: Thirty semi-skilled labourers, who went to Malaysia to work as welders and were left in the lurch by their employer, were rescued by a Malaysian-based social worker a few days ago.

The group comprised people from Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Gujarat, Kerala, Orissa, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh and returned to Chennai on Saturday morning in two groups.

One of them, R. Sahayarajan Madhan (42) of Kaavalkinaru in Tirunelveli district, said that 62 labourers were recruited by a Mumbai-based manpower agency, which had promised them good salary. Those selected had paid the agency between Rs.60,000 and Rs.1 lakh.

In July, the labourers were asked to come to Chennai, from where they reached Malaysia. Soon after landing there, the local employer took away their passports. For the first 20 days they were not appointed in any company.

A pittance

During this period the employer gave them some money, which was insufficient for even a meal, he said. On realising that they had been cheated, the group managed to reach the social worker. They were asked to stay at a temple and survived on ‘prasadam’ provided by devotees, Mr. Madhan said.

When they approached the Indian Embassy, the officials helped them in getting back their passports. After receiving money from home they managed to return.

Pon Kumar, chairman, Construction Workers Welfare Board, who co-ordinated the rescue work, said last year, following the intervention of Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi, the Union Ministry of External Affairs had promised to open an office in Malaysia to help stranded labourers. It had not started functioning.

Separate agency

In Kerala a separate agency was functioning to help those going abroad on overseas employment. In case the recruits were stranded or returned home without a job, the agency rehabilitated them by providing employment opportunity.

A team of officials from Chennai would soon visit Kerala to learn about the functioning of this agency. Steps would be taken to start a similar agency in the State, Mr. Kumar said.




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