india, saudia arabia.jpg
Photograph: Photo by Ibrahim Owais, used under CC BY-SA

India plans to bring back some 10,000 of its workers who were rendered jobless in Saudi Arabia, Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj said Monday.

The government was arranging exit documents for those who wanted to return but could not pay for the flights, she told the parliament.

The workers were laid off by Saudi construction companies after the slowdown in the industry due to the fall in global crude oil prices.

"We cannot leave our workers in a crisis. I contacted the Saudi foreign office and labour office. We have asked their foreign office to authorize us to bring them back from Saudi Arabia," Swaraj said.

She also said the Indian government would ensure that the workers who have not been paid - in many cases for as long as eight months - get their dues. Junior foreign minister VK Singh will travel to Saudi Arabia on Tuesday to meet with officials there.

Swaraj also said that all Indians who live in five worker complexes or camps in and around the city of Jeddah were provided with food rations by the Indian government for the next week.

About 70 per cent of the 3 million expatriate Indians in Saudi Arabia are blue-collar workers, mainly employed in the construction, oil and infrastructure sectors.

Some Indian media reported that the Saudi government was investigating complaints of companies not paying wages and will order them to do so by imposing fines and penalties.

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