BHUBANESWAR: The East Coast Railway (ECoR) has decided to take stern action against contractors not paying minimum wages to labourers. In a first-ever case, a contractor engaged for cleaning office premises has been fined Rs 4.55 lakh for allegedly denying minimum wages to labourers. He was also charged with not employing required number of workers.
The matter came to fore during an investigation by the Vigilance wing of ECoR. It was found that the labourers engaged by the contractor for cleaning were not being paid minimum wages as per Government norms and Minimum Wages Act.
It was found that the contractor was depositing salary of some of the contractual labourers in bank accounts and withdrawing the same soon after. Equipment as stipulated in the contract was not used for cleaning the premises.
“Investigations revealed that the contractor had kept ATM cards of labourers and used to withdraw part amount after depositing their wages. The number of labourers deployed for cleaning was inadequate,” said an ECoR official.
The Vigilance advised ECoR to deduct the amount siphoned off by the contractor from the bill and pay the labourers, who were denied their minimum wages. The ECoR has also suggested debarring the contractor from future participation in tenders for similar works.
“As advised, we have recovered Rs 15.51 lakh, including Rs 10.96 lakh that was not paid to labourers and Rs 4.55 lakh for non-deployment of required machinery, from the bills. The wages will be disbursed to labourers soon,” the official said.
As per the recommendation of Vigilance wing, ECoR has moved Central Labour Commission for action as per rules.
“This is a landmark step in the ongoing process toward labour reforms. Strict action will be imposed on the contractors who are not giving minimum wages. Criminal case will be initiated, if they do not change their attitude,” the official warned. Meanwhile, ECoR has urged railway users to be vigilant and lodge complaint on railway vigilance Helpline number 8455885031.