Migrant workers serve legal notice to IIMA, demand wages

IIMA CampusTeam Careers360 | May 21, 2020 – 4:06 p.m. ISTShare Via 


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.

.Claiming IIMA is their “principal employer”, the contractual workers have demanded that all of them be paid their wages forthwith and tested for coronavirus and after that, the institute make arrangements for their repatriation to their native states.

They have also demanded that all the workers detained by the police a few days back be extended necessary medical aid for the injuries inflicted on them by the police and should be produced before the concerned magistrate.

The notice reads: “IIMA being the principal employer has not paid the wages to the migrant labourers since past two months despite there being directives on part of the Central Government to continue to pay the wages as mandated irrespective of the lockdown. At the risk of repetition, it is stated that the labourers have not been paid wages for the past two months and all they are provided with is ration.”

Responding to the legal notice, IIMA released an official statement on Thursday. “We have been served with a legal notice by Advocate Anand Yagnik,” said the statement. The statement rebutting the claims made in the legal notice said that it does not “stand the test of scrutiny”.

The unrest of the workers from the construction site is not about wages and living conditions but about the delay in obtaining travel permits and the arranging of transportation by the public authorities to take them back to their home states. We are committed to doing what is possible from our side to see that happen.

Legal Notice

As per the notice, the labourers who have been detained have still not been produced before the magistrate and no medical treatment has been extended to them which is in violation of their fundamental rights.

The institute earlier denied that the migrant workers were involved in the construction at IIMA campus. “All construction activities at IIMA were stopped after the lockdown was announced in March,” said the spokesperson of the institute to Careers360 when contacted over the alleged incident of stone pelting at the entrance of the institute on May 18.

Earlier when Careers360 enquired about the construction activity going on at the IIMA new campus during the ongoing lockdown period, the institute accepted that the construction activity is going on at the institute as per the guidelines issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs.