x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Abandoned workers return to India

No longer in legal limbo after being stranded when their contracting company went bankrupt, workers are free to rejoin their families.

Laborers, who worked for the now defunct Al Otaiba & Garg Contracting, prepare to return to India.
Laborers, who worked for the now defunct Al Otaiba & Garg Contracting, prepare to return to India.

ABU DHABI // Most of the remaining workers left in legal limbo after their contracting company employer went bankrupt in 2009 flew home last night.

Harish Singh, 38, was one of those who returned, to Jaipur in the state of Rajasthan.

"I am just thinking of the reunion with my family," he said. "That has occupied my thoughts for the past few days."

Balkrishna Chaurasia, 50, who worked for 16 years with Al Otaiba and Garg, left for Delhi on Thursday night along with three other workers.

Mr Chaurasia said he had packed 40kgs worth of luggage, consisting mostly of clothing for his family, including his sons, daughters and grandchildren.

"I am taking one set of clothing for myself," he said. "That which I am wearing but that is all I need."

Mr Chaurasia will return to his village and hopes to take up farming and grow two crops of wheat and rice a year.

"Now the sadness of the past two years have left me," he said. "Sometimes I thought I would go mad but now I am happy and cannot thank the Red Crescent enough for the help they provided us."

The Red Crescent Authority (RCA) stepped in to help the 128 workers last year when their employer abandoned them. The RCA provided food, clothing, and medical care. The workers were left in legal limbo and relied on handouts from charities before the emirate's courts decided this year on the end-of-service benefits that they were to receive. Mr Chaurasia received Dh13,000 for 16 years of service but was taking home Dh9,000 after paying off debts he incurred while unemployed.

Yamuna Singh, 54, worked with the company for 28 years. He estimated they had built more than 30 mosques around the city.

Four men are yet to receive clearances to leave the country but are expected to leave by tomorrow night, said Sardar Gaur, one of the workers left behind.