3,000 Indian workers say they are stranded in Kuwait as construction firm has not paid them

The workers said they have not been paid for nearly a year, their visas have expired, and they do not have enough money to return to India.

At least 3,000 workers from Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Bihar, Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana have been stranded in Kuwait for months as the company that employed them has not paid them for nearly a year, The Times of India reported on Wednesday.

The workers include engineers, supervisors, drivers, plant operators, janitors, warehouse staff, steel fitters and construction workers. They claimed their visas had expired, they have no money for food and they cannot go to a hospital as they are now illegal residents.

Around 45 of them have been protesting at the office of the construction company, Kharafi National, demanding their salaries so they can return to India, The Times of India reported.

“We do not have money to travel back to our camp, which is 60 km away, every day,” 42-year-old Irfan Ahmed told the newspaper. “The only thing we can do is sit here, sleep here and wait till our plea is considered.”

Most of the workers said forgoing their dues and leaving Kuwait was not an option as the company had their passports. They said they did not have enough money to pay the fine for overstaying, and that the company could not pay them as there were no construction projects.

The Indian Embassy in Kuwait said it has made a list of 3,242 workers who have not been paid salaries and want to return to India. Indian authorities said the list had been handed over to Kuwaiti authorities on October 1, 2017, according to The Times of India.

“We will definitely help them,” MC Luther, the protector general of emigrants of India, told the The Times of India, and asked for names, passport numbers, visa details, location and contact numbers of the workers.

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