Migrants to get 20 per cent wage hike, other benefits after Jharkhand-BRO agreement

Ranchi, Jun 8 (PTI) The Jharkhand government and the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) have reached an agreement to ensure that labourers of the state get prescribed wages and healthcare, accident, travel allowance and housing benefits, an official statement said here on Monday.

A total of 11,815 labourers from the Santhal Pargana region of the state will get an opportunity to work for the BRO with full benefits after a written agreement was reached between the authorities of BRO and the state government, it said.

The deliberations from the two sides began after migrant workers, who had returned to Jharkhand from Leh on May 29, apprised Chief Minister Hemant Soren of their exploitation, vis--vis minimum wages, when Soren had been to the Birsa Munda Airport to welcome the first batch of 60 returnees, the statement, issued by the Chief Ministers Office (CMO), said.

The migrants had alleged that the contractors and middlemen used to pay them less then the minimum wages prescribed by the BRO.

The contractors also used to keep their ATM cards and withdraw one-third of the wages when they returned home, the migrants alleged before the chief minister.

'After coming to know from the labourers about the exploitation that they were not even getting minimum wages, the chief minister set up a special team which deliberated with the BRO authorities.

'After days of deliberations, a written agreement under the Inter-State Labour Act, 1979, Workmen Compensation Act, 1923 has been reached, which will enable the labourer to get benefits like prescribed wages, healthcare, accident, transport, housing benefits,' it said.

Following the agreement, the state government has given permission to the BRO to engage labourers who will now get wages with a 20 per cent hike, which will be deposited in their accounts.

With the signing of the agreement, the role of middlemen has ended, the statement said.

'National security is the highest priority for us.

Alongside we give equal priority to the rights of our labourers working in the service of the nation in border areas. The state government is always ready to cooperate with the Defence Ministry,' the statement quoted the chief minister as saying.

Thousands of workers from the Santhal Pargana region of the state have been going to Leh-Ladakh since 1970s for construction works, particularly roads on difficult terrains and peaks, it said.

The workers, 'through the local networkers of the BRO' go in two batches every year --in April/May and return in September and another goes in October/November and return in February, the statement said.

'But this time the migrant workers were stranded due to the lockdown and they approached the call centres (set up by Jharkhand) and CMO,' following which the state government took initiatives to bring them back.

The second batch of 55 migrants reached on Monday morning and three more batches are scheduled to fly back this week. PTI PVR MM MM