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Indians in US shipyard allege slave treatment
Date 08/03/10/20:04

Indians in US shipyard allege slave treatment
8 Mar 2008

NEW YORK: Over 100 Indian workers have quit their jobs at a Mississippi
shipyard protesting alleged "slave treatment" by their employer after being
"tricked" into coming to the US and are demanding a probe against the firm
which faced similar accusations last year.

The workers, mostly welders and pipe-fitters, alleged they lived "like pigs
in a cage" in a "work camp" run by Signal International in Pascagoula

Signal forced them to live in substandard housing with 24 men crammed into a
small room for which they were charged more than USD 1,000 a month, the
workers claimed.

The Indians symbolically threw their hard hats at the company gates as they
walked out alleging that it had brought them to the US by promising
permanent residency in exchange for USD 20,000 fee.

Instead they said they were given 10-month work visa.

Signal International, however, strongly denied the workers' allegations.

"Unfortunately, a few of the workers whom Signal had sponsored for H2B visas
and recruited have made baseless and unfounded allegations against Signal
concerning their employment and living conditions," it said in a statement.

The workers told media that they plan to "report themselves to the
Department of Justice as victims of trafficking, and demand federal
prosecution of Signal".

"For more than one year, hundreds of Indian workers at Signal International
have been living like slaves," a former Signal worker Sabulal Vijayan was
quoted as saying by ABC .

"Today the workers are coming out to declare their freedom. This trafficking
needs to end."

A similar protest was held by nearly 300 Indian workers at the shipyard in
March last year, local media reports said.

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