February 18, 2010 · Filed Under Topstories, archive · Comment
Some 30 Indian workers of a construction company has been crying foul for two years as they had not been paid even after repetitively notifying the contractor.
They had been working for Phurba Construction based in Thimphu. They were employed for painting of the Mongar referral hospital for 18 months since 2007 and they claim that they were never paid except for some advances and a few amount to buy ration while working. The total amount that the contractor is liable to pay is Nu 8, 52,778, according to them.
According to an agreement signed between the proprietor and Muneer Uddin, the labour contractor and also the supervisor, the painting work was entrusted to Muneer and his team on a per square basis which in total amounted to Nu 20, 16,297.
The contractor had paid Nu 11,23,519 as an advance on salary and Nu 40,000 was paid following repeated notification from the aggrieved party.
“I had recruited about 30 labourers for the work and I had to pay them. To clear debts to the workers, I had to sell my own house and still there are some dues to be paid to some of the workers,” said Muneer adding that his life has been threatened if he failed to pay them soon enough.
Muneer said that he had called the contractor numerous times and he had always been cheated by the contractor by saying that he was bringing the money soon which never happened for the last one year.
Mila Mahasen is a co-partner of Muneer, who too, had to sell some of his property to clear their dues to the workers. He said that the contractor had not only defaulted in making payment but also cheated them in measurement of their work. Mila said that the total amount payable to them were of only 27,000 square feet according to the contractor but in actual, it was of more than that. The aggrieved party than took the matter to North Bengal Construction Workers’ Union and following which, an agreement was signed between the contractor and the labour contractor on 15 September, 2009. It was agreed that contractor would clear all his dues to Muneer and his friend within a week and Nu 20,000 was given to Muneer but thereafter, the contractor has not paid any amount.
The matter was then taken to the office of the Consul General of India on 11 Deceber 2009. They appealed to the consul general to look into the matter and solve the case. They also had sent a petition to the ministry of home and cultural affairs (MoHCA) on 18 December, 2009.
“The amount maybe less but for them but for us even Nu 10,000 is a huge amount which would take about three months to earn that,” said Muneer. However, till now, they have not received any response from the concerned authorities.
Workers’ union of India had also issued letters to the contractor but could never get any response from the contractor, according to an official from North Bengal construction workers’ union.
The officials said that such negligence on the part of the Bhutanese businessmen is seriously hampering the strong Indo-Bhutan friendship.
Talking to BHUTAN TODAY, the contractor said that he has nothing to pay as he had already cleared all his dues. “I was called by the Dungkhag office and I have clarified everything,” said the contractor
By Sonam Tashi