'US may be violating own laws on wages for its Indian staff'
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The US embassy and its consulates may be in violation of their own laws concerning the wages paid to the Indian staff employed by these missions as well as by individual diplomats, informed sources said on Sunday.
Keeping up the pressure on the US, a special group set up in the External Affairs Ministry will meet on Sunday to scrutinise the available information regarding the wages being paid to their Indian staff amid indications that these may be violative of the laws.
US embassy and its consulates are still dragging their feet in furnishing to the government the details it has sought about the number of Indian staff employed both in the diplomatic mission and also at the residences by their diplomats. The details sought include the wages paid as well as the tax details.
The deadline to provide such information was December 23 but according to the Ministry of External Affairs no information has been provided as yet. It is understood that the US Embassy has cited Christmas and New Year holidays as the reason for the delay.
The government's action is a fallout of the arrest and strip-search of Deputy Consul General Devyani Khobragade, who was arrested in New York on visa fraud charges.
Enforcing strict reciprocity, Indian government has withdrawn extra privilges enjoyed by American Ambassador Nancy Powell and other diplomats such as special access at Indian airports.
While the government is awaiting American response, information available indicates that Indian staff like cooks and drivers were being paid between Rs 12000-15000 which is equivalent to USD 200-250, way below the minimum wage of USD 9.47 per hour applicable in New York or in any other US city.
Thus, American diplomats would be in violation of US law of minimum wages since their residences as well as the embassy and consulates are treated as American territory.
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