Lockdown: Daily-wagers at IIT-B suffering without wages: student body

Updated: May 21, 2020, 07:12 IST | Pallavi Smart | Mumbai

IIT-B spokesperson rubbishes allegation, says administration has been providing ration and trying to arrange travel for the workers

Labourers collect ration at the IIT-B campus, which the institute says was arranged by the contractors
Labourers collect ration at the IIT-B campus, which the institute says was arranged by the contractors

While migrants from all over the country are walking home from cities, those at IIT Bombay seem to be going through their own ordeal amid the COVID-19-caused lockdown. The Students collective – IIT Bombay for Justice has written to the institute's director seeking relief for daily wagers.

The informal students' body has pointed to the condition of construction labourers and other contractual workers inside IIT-B's Powai campus. The letter to IIT-B Director Subhasis Chaudhuri claims that the IIT-B administration has failed to pay the workers and treat them with dignity and respect.

"The workforce at IIT-B consists mostly of contract workers. In the lockdown, IIT-B has washed its hands of their problems. The administration is refusing to pay wages to many workers, for whom the institute is the principal employer. And it has failed to assure that contractors pay workers their wages.

"The worst-hit are perhaps the 700-odd construction workers who live in different labour camps around the campus. Almost half of them have not been paid their wages since February and for some weeks now, they have also not received the 'kharchi', or petty cash, that otherwise helps them tide through the month," states the letter, adding that the institute is not even helping them travel home.

Other staffers — housekeeping staff, maintenance workers and mess workers — the letter claims have not been paid for March, April and May as these months are usually 'vacation time' for the institute. Apart from demanding the workers' salaries, the letter says that a report about the goings-on should be given to all members of IIT-B.

An IIT-B spokesperson denied the claims and shared a detailed statement of the administration's efforts for the labourers.

"There are around 340 labourers under two major contractors. The IIT-B, through its contractors, has ensured payment of wages to all labourers as per government regulations. Efforts are being made to help labourers travel home. Powai police were contacted to expedite their travel arrangement. In addition to kharchi, the contractors have also arranged two weeks' ration for labourers.

Further, IIT-B faculty and staff have contributed generously to meet additional daily expenses of the labourers," read the statement.

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