Island News

Indian workers lured by false promises

Written By : Nandika Chand. History seems to be repeating itself with the fact that Indians are recently being brought into Fiji by false promises and assurances of first class
09 Aug 2008 12:00

image Written By : Nandika Chand.
History seems to be repeating itself with the fact that Indians are recently being brought into Fiji by false promises and assurances of first class working conditions and pay.
As more and more descendants of the Indigenous laborers migrate to overseas countries, more Indians are being recruited to work in Fiji.
This has been evident in the past few weeks with the strike or protest by Indian National labourers not to continue working in the Labasa sugar mill.
A century ago, Indians were recruited by the British in India in the colonial age to work in the sugar cane fields and farms in Fiji with the promises of heavenly like working conditions and a great pay package.
When the Indians arrived in Fiji, they saw and experienced that they were made false promises by the British.
They were treated like slaves and we made to live in poor housing and harsh conditions.
Indian National 27-year-old Naseem Ansari said they were informed about work available in Fiji by a contractor known as Shaheaz.
Mr Ansari said before coming to Fiji, he was running his dry-cleaning business in Bhopal in India.
He was doing well in his business but was attracted to the offer of working in a foreign land and earning much more for his family.
“I did not want this god-sent opportunity to slip away from me, so I signed up to work in Fiji,” Mr Ansari said.
“Before coming here, I had had a look at the world map and saw that Fiji was only a small dot and did not understand why it was so,” he said.
“The contractor recruited more men and informed us that Fiji was a small island country where we will get good working conditions, air-conditioned rooms, good food and a good salary package,” he said.
“I signed up immediately thinking here was an opportunity to prove myself to my family and friends that I could make a name for myself,” he added.
Mr Ansari said little did he know that the contractor would turn tables as soon as they set foot in Fiji.
He said that he was informed that he would be working at the Labasa sugar mill in Vanua Levu.
“I began to like Fiji and its people, as they treated us one of them and made us feel very much at home,” Mr Ansari said.
“We had been promised that we would be getting $70 as pay, plus meal allowances and toiletries,” he said.
“Three months later, we are still without pay, food, and we now know that the promise which was made to us in India was just to lure us here,” he said.
“We put our grievances to the contractor but we got no feedback from him. We resorted to a strike action because that was the only way where our grievances could be heard,” he said.
“This kind of treatment was only known back in the days of British rule in India and we are shocked that we are being treated like this by one of our own people in a foreign country,” he added.
Mr Ansari said he never thought that something like this would happen to him.
He said he was sad about how things has turned out for him and his colleagues and added that they all they want is to go back to the comfort of their homes and families.
“My family will be shocked to hear what happen to us in Fiji by one of our own people,” Mr Ansari said.
“We saw the chance of working in Fiji as a good opportunity to earn money for our families,” he said.
“We hope that the authorities in India will take some action on the recruiter who recruited us with false promises,” he said.
“We will try to forget what happened to us in Fiji as a bad dream or a bad memory,” he added.
Mr Ansari said they hope that no one else will fall victim to the such fraud recruiters as the have.


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