Indian workers held in Angola

Indian workers held in Angola
Published: 14 May 2012


Around 1200 men from across India working in Angola cannot return home as their travel documents have allegedly been held by the company for which they work.

The workers were hired by ETA Star International to work in a cement factory near Sumbe, the administrative capital of Cuanza Sul Province in west central Angola.

Workers have been protesting against the non-payment of wages?for the past four days. Travel documents have allegedly been confiscated by the company and police are have also arrested some of the workers. Some Indian newspapers have reported that 200-300 bullets were fired along with tear gas shells to disperse the aggrieved workers. One person is reported to have been injured during the firing.

Speaking to the Daily Mail India, one worker said: “The company has not paid us remuneration since February 2012. We are meeting our expenses only by overtime payments. We struck work for about a month. Some government officials visited the site and assured us that the wages would be paid on 10 May...But nothing has happened till date."

The source said the company had promised them to pay in the US dollars "but, now they are offering to pay in Kwanza, the local currency of Angola."

ETA Star claims that the strike by the labourers is illegal. Corporate office manager Rafiq Jeelani told the Mail that the company pays overtime to workers at the site in the US currency.  "The problem started in February 2012 over payment of overtime at site. The banks stopped issuing dollars and there was a shortage of the US currency.

"The workers are demanding the overtime payment in dollars only. Because of the scarcity of dollars, the company offered to pay part of it in the U.S. currency and the balance in Kwanza," he said.

"Their strike is illegal and defies their undertaking before joining to this project," Jeelani added.