The minister, who is arriving in the Kingdom on a three-day visit from May 7 to 9, will be in Riyadh on May 8 and 9 after spending a day in Jeddah. He will meet Indians and address a public meeting at the Indian Embassy auditorium on May 8.
Indian associations are getting ready to submit representations highlighting the problems facing the community in the Kingdom. They range from transfer of sponsorship to employment-related problems, Indians languishing in jail and waiver of death registration fee.
With many professions reserved for Saudis, expatriates find it difficult to get transfer of sponsorship if the profession listed in their Iqama falls in the category declared off-limits for them. As a result, Saudi companies are facing severe problems in hiring Indians for the IT profession, for example, in which they are particularly strong.
Some Indian teachers face a different problem: They came here on a free visa,and took up jobs in international schools. As one of these teachers explained to Arab News: “There are quite a few teachers working on labor visas. So even though they satisfy all the conditions for bringing their wives to the Kingdom under their sponsorship, they are unable to do so in view of their labor visa. When some of them applied for a change of profession to that of a teacher, the Ministry of Labor refused on the ground that the rules do not allow change of profession from that of a laborer to a teacher.”
Another problem facing Indians is that of contract substitution whereby the new recruit has to sign a new contract whose terms and conditions are different from those that he had signed originally in his home country. This problem, which is not addressed by the new labor law, amounts to cheating on the part of the Saudi employer, according to Jeddah lawyer Jaber Nader. However, he observes that the expatriate is not supposed to sign a fresh contract when he has already signed it once.
Another pressing issue relates to Indian workers in detention due to their inability to pay blood money to relatives of victims of traffic accidents in which they were allegedly involved. According to Indian Embassy sources, at least five workers now in jail are required to pay blood money — ranging from SR100,000 to SR450,000 — to the relatives of the victims.