Migrant labourers working at a construction site at the Indian Institute of Management in Ahmedabad have sent a legal notice to the top B-school’s administration for allegedly not paying them for two months amid the nationwide COVID-19 lockdown. IIM-Ahmedabad has denied the charges.
On Monday, nearly 100 migrant workers had gathered on a busy road near IIM Ahmedabad and thrown stones at the police and vehicles passing by, demanding that they be sent back to their homes immediately, news agency PTI reported quoting officials.
The police fired teargas shells to disperse the crowd and detained nearly 100 people, the report said. A larger police force, including senior officers, were called in to control the situation.
Local residents living near a labour colony in the area claimed migrant workers suddenly came on the road demanding they be allowed to go back to their homes.
The migrant workers from different states have been asking local authorities for many days that they should be sent back to their homes at the earliest, a senior police officer Amit Vishwakarma said.
A day later, in a legal notice sent to the IIM-A Director, the Gujarat Chief Secretary, the Additional Chief Secretary and the Deputy Labour Commissioner, by a lawyer representing the workers said several of them were detained by the police, some were “brutally” thrashed, and two of those detained have been found to be infected with coronavirus.
“This is to bring to your notice once again that… IIMA being the principal employer has not paid the wages to the migrant labourers for the past two months despite directives by the central government to continue to pay wages irrespective of the lockdown,” lawyer Anandvardhan J Yagnik said in the notice.
Mr Yagnik said there are some 20 children and up to 30 women at the construction site of a new building on the IIM-A grounds, and alleged they have been living without any facility required by labour laws.
Speaking to The Times of India, IIM-A Director Errol D’Souza said, “All workers are paid their dues. The primary issue that led to the unrest is their understandable perceived delay in obtaining travel permits and arranging of transportation by the state authorities.”
The central government has said workers should be paid their full salary amid the lockdown. Thousands of migrant workers have been leaving the cities after food and money started running out. The lockdown that started on March 25 has been extended thrice, the latest till May 31.