Thanks to globalization of labor, many Malayalees work in the Islamic countries in the Middle East. Yale Global has an article on these people, who are the “invisible foot soldiers of globalization”
Blue-collar Indian workers in the UAE, including Dubai, amount to an exploited underclass with no rights, no unions, and no stake in country’s burgeoning wealth, say human rights groups. In neighboring Saudi Arabia, a recent Human Rights Watch report says many of the country’s more than one million Indian migrants live in “conditions resembling slavery.” The document highlights the widespread practice of forced, around-the-clock confinement of Indian maids, often in unsafe conditions. And a US State Department report on worldwide human trafficking faults the UAE and other Gulf states for commonplace labor abuses like withholding pay and passports.
Employers usually confiscate passports and residence permits when workers arrive at Dubai International Airport, making it virtually impossible for laborers to seek better jobs or quit and go home. Migrants typically cannot obtain exit visas without the approval of their sponsor or employer. The story of these faceless men and women, who live in labor camps and seedy apartments, is gaining attention in the usually self-censored UAE press, which now regularly reports on worker protests over delayed pay and substandard living conditions. [Dubai’s Kerala Connection]
Malayalees may be able to live without passports, but without unions and the rights to raise slogans, we are like President Bush on a bicycle. It is sad that Malayalees who raise slogans even in front of corpses, have to live like slaves away from their families.