“Goodwill gesture” by Bahraini firm sets Indian laborers free

“Goodwill gesture” by Bahraini firm sets Indian laborers free

After six years of being stranded in Bahrain, roughly 100 laborers will be allowed to return home to India, the BBC reports. The workers, who were employed at the Nass Corporation until they quit in 2006, had been legally barred from leaving Bahrain because they terminated their contracts before the agreed upon date.

The company had accused the workers of "absconding from work" in 2006 after many of them left the company complaining of low wages.

The workers’ visas were sponsored by the company, a requirement under Bahrain law for anyone leaving the country.

Nearly 400,000 Indians live and work in Bahrain and campaigners say many live in extreme poverty – they are often not paid the wages they are promised and their passports are taken away from them.

In 2009 Bahrain’s own labour minister criticised the visa sponsor system, saying it was akin to slavery.

One of the laborers recently committed suicide by hanging himself from a palm tree in a public garden. He was the 26th Indian laborer who has committed suicide in Bahrain this year.

The Nass Corporation has reportedly agreed not to press charges against runaway workers in the future in exchange for being removed from an Indian government blacklist.

The headline in Bahrain’s state-run Gulf Daily News was "Goodwill gesture by firm."