JEDDAH — The e-Migrate system, which was launched by the Indian government on June 1 to protect its workers from fraudulent job offers, has come in for criticism from some Saudi officials.
The system, which is an initiative of the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs (MOIA), makes it mandatory for employers as well as recruitment agents to register at the e-Migrate site (http://www.emigrate.gov.in) and upload contracts to be able to hire Indian workers.
However, Fahd Al-Hammadi, chairman of the contractors committee at the Council of Saudi Chambers, criticized the new condition as “unfair” and called for recruitment of required workers from other countries including Bangladesh and Nepal.
“We have the right to recruit any other nationals who would like to work in the Kingdom,” Al-Hammadi was quoted as saying by Al-Sharq Arabic daily on Sunday.
He reportedly asked the Labor Ministry to stop issuing visas for Indian workers.
“We are not trying to stop the recruitment process, but focusing on regulating it and making it more transparent,” Hemant Kotalwar, Charge d’Affaires at Indian Embassy in Riyadh, told Saudi Gazette.
Economic analyst Fadel Al-Bouainain told a section of the Arabic press that India does not want to export skilled workers because of the improved economic conditions so it has set “arbitrary recruitment conditions.”
Kotalwar clarified that India is not a labor exporting country. He also said that the e-Migrate system has not affected the flow of Indian workers abroad. “In fact, the number of Indians in Saudi Arabia has grown from 2.75 million to 2.93 million in one year,” he added.
Defending the e-Migrate system, Indian Consul General B.S. Mubarak said that it will help “prevent substitution of contracts whereby some recruiting agencies in India make workers sign a contract with higher wage structure and when they reach Saudi Arabia they realize that their real wage structure is different.”
He said the e-Migrate system would ensure that workers are not duped and are aware of their wages and working conditions before they depart from India.
“Presently the consulate receives complaints from workers about non-payment of salaries, non-renewal of Iqamas (residence permits), and adverse working conditions,” said Mubarak, adding that “the percentage of such complains are very limited compared to the number of Indians working in Saudi Arabia.” However, in many cases it does take a long time to resolve such disputes, he added.
The e-Migrate system basically covers workers under ECR (Emigration Check Required) status.
Before taking up job assignments abroad, workers will have to go through the Protector of Emigrants (POE) offices located in Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Hyderabad, Chandigarh, Kochi, Thiruvananthapuram and Jaipur. POE offices check whether job offers and salaries have been verified by the e-Migrate system. Verification failure will stop workers from traveling abroad.
The e-Migrate system fully automates the operations of offices of Protector of Emigrants (POE) and Protector General of Emigrants (PGOE). It also electronically links Indian missions, PGOE, POE, employers, recruitment agents, emigrants and insurance agencies.