Malayali nurses stranded in Saudi
Riyadh: Three nurses from Kerala – Saramma Varghese, Subhadra Omana Kuttan and Sreelatha Vasudevan Nair, who were working with a Poly Clinic in Riyadh for the last 18 years have been stranded in Saudi Arabia for more than two years. The nurses who have no documents are unemployed and in a dicey situation as they can’t continue work there or return home.
“We have been unemployed for more than two years, and are unable return to our homes because we do not have the papers.The clinic, in which we worked was suddenly closed down on 3 January 2010 without giving us any prior notice or options for job change. Since then we are stranded here and can’t work nor return home,” said Saramma Vargheese.
The three nurses were working under the sponsorship of a Saudi national who passed away in 2009. After his death, his son transferred the management to another Saudi national. The clinic was suddenly closed down by the new management, with no prior notice. He did not even give them the option for a job change. The resident cards of the nurses have also expired, making matters worse.
The employees then approached the Saudi labour court seeking justice. The Labour Ministry issued a judgement on May 4, 2011, ordering to pay compensation to the nurses. “A labour court in May last year issued a judgment in our favour. The sponsor was ordered to pay us wages and return all our documents,” Saramma said.
However, the owner of the clinic appealed against the order and the nurse’s case was rejected in January this year. “The new Judge asked us to sign a settlement agreement written in Arabic which we initially refused. But, we did sign after the advice of the translator at the Indian Embassy. Then we were told that our application and earlier judgement were overturned,” the nurses said.
The Pravasi Legal Aid Cell has approached the Indian Ambassador to Saudi Arabia seeking his intervention in providing legal aid to the three Malayali nurses. Chief Minister Oommen Chandy has intervened in this issue and steps are being taken to bring the three nurses home.”The representative of NORKA (Non Resdient Keralite Affairs)in Riyadh has intervened and things are moving,” said an official in the CM’s office.