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Exploitation: 100 Indian workers walk out of US firm

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Omaha Steve Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-08-08 10:04 PM
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Exploitation: 100 Indian workers walk out of US firm

Saturday March 8 2008 00:12 IST

S Rajagopalan

WASHINGTON: About 100 Indian workers have walked out of their jobs with a Mississippi-based company, accusing it of human trafficking and exploitation after making fraudulent promises at the time of their recruitment in India.

The workers, who could face the prospect of deportation, are knocking on the doors of the US Department of Justice for a probe into the extreme conditions under which they were subjected to work and live at the Pascagoula shipyard.

They are demanding prosecution of the company, Signal International, for human trafficking, saying they all got lured into it. But the company has sought to dismiss the allegations as baseless and unfounded and claimed that its facilities and labour practices have been approved by federal agencies, including the Department of Labour and the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

The workers were recruited in India and brought to the US on H-2B visas in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005 that had resulted in a sever shortage of workers. According to Saket Soni of the New Orleans-based Workers Centre for Racial Justice, the workers found their dreams shattered after arriving in Pascagoula.

For the past year or so, they have been voicing their concerns with the employers. There were 24 people living in a single room. And for this, the company deducted $1,050 a month from our pay checks, said the workers, one of whom tried to slit his wrists and kill himself.

A statement issued by Signal International claimed that the vast majority of the 500-odd workers recruited by it were satisfied with the employment and living conditions at Signal. The company claimed that the H-2B workers were being paid in excess of the prevailing rate for their skills and that they received the same benefits as other Signal employees.

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sandnsea Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-08-08 10:12 PM
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1. This company was posted about a year ago
Edited on Sat Mar-08-08 10:12 PM by sandnsea
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