India: Himachal Pradesh Workers Demand Unpaid Wages from ADB

06 September 2019 12:39

Workers gathered in the Swarghat Office of the AHPWDIPICWU for a conference call on which they communicated their demands for unpaid wages and benefits.

Workers in Himachal Pradesh have demanded justice on unpaid wages and other benefits, arguing that the lender – the Asian Development Bank (ADB) – has violated its labour policies, causing negative impact on a group of 116 union members working on the project. A group of fifteen workers, who were engaged on the ADB-funded Kiratpur-Nerchowk Four Lane Road project in Himachal Pradesh, explained to the ADB’s Compliance Review Panel staff in a conference call that the collapse of the project contractor Infrastructure Leasing & Financial Services (IL&FS) has left them millions of rupees out of pocket.

“The BWI is proud to support this complaint, along with NGO Forum on the ADB, to ensure that these workers get justice,” said BWI Asia-Pacific Regional Representative Apolinar Tolentino. “At the time the company collapsed, the workers had served a charter of demands to the company and a number of key contractors with an aim to get key labour issues on the site addressed. For many of the workers, the company’s collapse has meant a decline in living standards. Systems need to be put in place to ensure that workers are protected and do not suffer undue harm with no fault of their own.”

The workers are members of the BWI affiliate the All Himachal PWD-IPH & Contractual Workers Union Himachal Pradesh (AHPWDIPHCWU) and the Himachal Pradesh Building and Road Construction Workers Union, affiliated with CITU. The eligibility of the complaint is currently being considered by the ADB Compliance Review Panel (ADB-CRP).

"Submitting this complaint has given a new hope to all affected workers and their families for early resolution of the numerous grievances raised and pending in labour courts," said AHPWDIPHCWU President Sitaram Saini. "These workers know their rights have been violated and want justice."

Saini has previously taken up the matter with ADB’s local staff representatives in India, met with ADB staff in Manila and communicated their concerns to the ADB Annual General Meeting in Fiji this year. He will be part of a delegation heading to Manila next week to communicate the workers issues to the ADB Board of Directors.