India clarifies wage guidelines for workers in Saudi

Indian Embassy in Riyadh says new wage system is just a “referral”.

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New salary guidelines for Indian construction workers in Saudi Arabia are intended as a reference rather than a mandatory minimum wage, an embassy official told Big Project ME.

The Indian embassy in Riyadh last month announced new wage guidelines of $453 to $933 per month for skilled labour and $320 to $453 for unskilled workers. The guide for unskilled labourers stands at nearly 71% above the existing average of $187.

Some interpreted the announcement as a call for a minimum wage to be set at a level well above the current average salaries.

But Hemant Kotalwar, Deputy Chief of Mission at the Indian embassy in Riyadh, said the wage guidelines were only intended as a reference.

“It’s not a minimum wage, it’s a referral wage,” Kotalwar says. “It’s up to the individual to decide whether he’d like to follow the referral wage or not.”

The new wage guidelines are not going to be implemented on a mandatory basis, but they are merely to give workers a fair idea of what kind of salaries they should expect, Kotalwar says.

The embassy put up the wage guidelines on its website following directives from the Indian government, he adds.

The referral wages could enable workers to better negotiate their contracts, Kotalwar says, “so that the people are not misled.”

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