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Saudis, India ink deal on labour cooperation Loopholes to be plugged: official

NEW DELHI, Jan 2, (KUNA): India and Saudi Arabia on Thursday signed a significant agreement on labor cooperation which would cover 28,000 Indian expatriates working in the Gulf country. “This is the first step towards a comprehensive agreement on labor cooperation covering the entire spectrum of Indian workers in Saudi Arabia,” the Indian Ministry for Overseas Indian Affairs said in a statement.

The agreement, conceptualized in April 2013, was signed in New Delhi today by Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs Vayalar Ravi and Minister for Labor of Saudi Arabia Adel Bin Mohammed Fakeih. According to the agreement, it would regulate contractual relations between employers and domestic workers, ensures authenticity and implementation of the employment contract, promises action against recruitment agencies violating laws and seeks to establish a mechanism to provide 24 hours assistance to domestic workers.

A standard employment contract would set out minimum wages, working hours, paid holidays and a dispute settlement mechanism. India has also thanked the Saudi authorities for announcing grace period from April 2013 to November, 2013 allowing overstaying of Indian expatriate workers to correct their status or to return to their country without penal action. The agreement has come in the backdrop of the Nitaqat work policy under which Riyadh had cracked down on expatriates with inappropriate documentation. An estimated 140,000 Indians returned home under this policy.

More than 1.4 million Indians have availed the concessions during the grace period to correct their status, the ministry added. There are about 28,000 Indians in Saudi Arabia and they constitute the biggest group of migrant communities, the ministry noted.

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