x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Indian envoys in UAE promote workers helpline

The Indian missions in the UAE are hoping to make more labourers aware of the Indian Workers Resource Centre.

DUBAI // India's diplomatic missions in the Emirates are planning a campaign to raise the profile of a recently launched helpline for Indian workers, because demand for the service has dropped off recently.

Officials said yesterday that many labourers were still unaware of the Indian Workers Resource Centre four months after its launch. A plan calling for a radio advertising campaign, and for the use of posters displayed in remittance centres, should boost the 24-hour helpline's profile, they said.

"The number of calls to the centre is gradually diminishing," MK Lokesh, the Indian ambassador, said. "One of the reasons is that there is not much information among workers, outside of Dubai and Abu Dhabi cities, about the centre. We are discussing ways to bridge this information gap."

Mr Lokesh said the reduced call volume was also due to issues being resolved quickly.

Since workers often use exchange houses to remit money, Indian officials are in discussions with companies to put up posters that advertise the centre's services, and also to place petition drop boxes. "We hope the centre increases its relevance to workers," Mr Lokesh said.

The Indian president, Pratibha Patil, opened the resource centre in Dubai in November. It is intended to provide semi-skilled and unskilled labourers with direct access to welfare services.

Workers can call the centre's toll-free number, 800-46342 (800-India) from anywhere in the UAE to seek counselling, information or advice on legal issues, financial or personal problems.

The centre in Dubai also provides a free walk-in service, with a 30-seat waiting room. A similar walk-in facility will soon be set up in Abu Dhabi, too.

Authorities also announced that a new outsourcing company - BLS International - would handle the processing of Indian visas and passports. The existing contract with Empost, the UAE logistics and courier firm, expires on April 5.

"The switch-over shouldn't be a concern," Mr Lokesh said. "We are quite confident that there won't be any teething problems."

Mr Lokesh also said that there would be a 25 per cent reduction in collection and processing fees. Empost now charges Dh12 for a passport application and Dh50 for a visa application.

pkannan@thenational.ae