Written byShalini Ojha ·
IIM-Ahmedabad was served a legal notice by migrant workers over non-payment of dues, a charge the top business school of India has denied, saying the money was paid.
The workers alleged they hadn't been paid for two months.
The row sparked on Monday when over 100 workers ascended on a busy road near IIM-A to lodge a protest. The situation quickly turned violent as workmen pelted stones at cops, demanding to be sent home immediately.
A large police force, complete with senior officers, dispersed the crowd. Teargas shells were fired and several were detained.
The next day, the notice was served.
The notice was sent to IIM-A, Gujarat's Chief Secretary and the Additional Chief Secretary of the Labor Department on May 19 (Tuesday), by Advocate Anandvardhan J Yagnik.
The Deputy Labor Commissioner and the Gujarat DGP also received the legal notice, that claimed that several labor laws were flouted by IIM-A.
Yagnik said some workers were "brutally thrashed" by police. Two detained had COVID-19 too.
Yagnik said children and women stayed at the construction site in IIM-A, without proper facilities.
"This is to bring to your notice once again that... IIM-A being the principal employer has not paid the wages to the migrant laborers for the past two months despite directives by the central government to continue to pay wages irrespective of the lockdown," he claimed.
Yagnik said neither the principal employer (IIM-A) nor the contractor made any arrangements to send nearly 500 workers to their home states. Migrant workers have been wanting to return home since lockdown started in March.
He cited that Sections 14 and 15 of the Inter-State Migrant Workmen Act mentions displacement and journey allowance.
The cost has to be borne by the employers, he said.
The allegation, that dues weren't cleared, was refuted by IIM-A Director Prof. Errol D'Souza.
"All bills raised on us go through a process of certification by our Project Management Consultants, the architect for the project, and our own project manager/engineer and are then paid."
The institute said it verified and concluded that till the date of serving the notice, no dues were pending.
On the claim that neither the institute nor the contractor made any efforts to repatriate workers from Bengal and Jharkhand, the B-school said, "We invite those who believe this statement to check the applications given to the public authorities."
Workers from UP and Bihar were sent in trains but "unfortunately the authorities did not arrange for trains to Jharkhand and West Bengal," IIM-A said.
The institute also dismissed allegations that workers were kept in uninhabitable conditions. The workmen are given RO-water, crèche, sanitation facilities, light, and fan, IIM-A said.
There are separate rows for bachelors, families, and a doctor conducted routine check-ups.
"If as is being reported two workers have tested positive, then the contractor will comply with whatever steps are required for isolation and quarantine," said IIM-A.
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