Often in poor areas of South Asia, lower-class men are offered the opportunity to work overseas in the Gulf countries, compelled by promises of being able to support their family and afford a better lifestyle for their loved ones back home. These jobs are difficult enough as they require men to leave their families thousands of miles away, but they are made even more arduous with the harsh conditions they are forced to work under and the false promises they have to experience the consequences of.
Misled by the false hope dished out by the construction companies that hire them, the workers who travel to work in places like Saudi Arabia often have their passports confiscated from them upon entry in order to prevent these laborers from leaving. Similarly, these migrant workers have to sign a contract with the construction company beforehand that hinders them from leaving their job before their time is completed or seeing their family in between. Unfortunately, as many of these workers have little to no substantive education, it is easy for these companies to input loopholes into these contracts and take advantage of them.
Due to this binding servitude, employers can easily mistreat their workers because they are unable to quit or return to their homes. Therefore, these workers are known to be abused, work in poor conditions and work for long hours without break or food. For this reason, 87 percent of Indian migrant worker exploitation complains pertain to Gulf coast countries.
This mistreatment is prolific in the Gulf coast countries because of the lack of regulations on the organizations that provide jobs for migrant, South Asian workers. As the Minister of Labor of the Gulf and Asia does not impose strict guidelines on the recruitment agencies responsible for hiring overseas employees, payments can easily be halted or contracts prolonged for these workers who are merely trying to support their families at home. This means that despite enduring harsh treatment on the Gulf coast, the workers’ families often do not receive the compensation that was originally promised.
Though it is easy to admire the astonishing, modern architecture of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, these wonders are built on the backs of mistreated immigrant workers. Unfortunately, this issue is often overshadowed by the wealth and prowess these Gulf coast countries possess. This is not simply an issue of workers’ rights, this is an issue of human rights.