Over 1,000 workers complain about non-payment of salaries

The Gujarat government has so far received over 1,000 calls on its two helplines from labourers and workers complaining against employers for not paying their salaries for March during the lockdown.

About 45 per cent of these complaints were from Vadodara.

The state government had asked the industries to pay full salary to the workers during the lockdown period and not to lay off anyone. In 20 days between April 7 and 26, over 1,085 complaints were received by the Gujarat labour and employment department, of which 487 were from Vadodara, according to the data shared by the department.

As many as 192 complaints were received from Ahmedabad, while from Surat it was 126, Bhavnagar 47 and Rajkot 28. These complaints came to district helpline number 1077 (489 complaints) and the helpline of the labour and employment department 555155372 (596 complaints), which the government set up after the lockdown was announced in Gujarat.

“We started recording the complaints of workers from April 4, 2020. The complaints are about workers not receiving salaries for the month of March,” Shruti Modi, additional labour commissioner, labour and employment department, said. The official said that the name and mobile numbers of all the workers who called the helpline related to salaries are kept confidential.

“Once we receive a complaint, our field officers approach the industry or business concerned and appraise them about the government notification issued in this regard and ask them to pay the salaries. Though most of the owners cite financial crunch, most of the workers get paid after we intervene. We later cross-check with the worker,” said the official.

The government on March 21 issued a notification asking businesses and industries in Gujarat to not lay off workers or to cut wages during the lockdown period. Later the state government also claimed that it will file FIRs against firms who do not adhere to its notification. In April, the labour department resolved 1,036 complaints, which is almost 95.5 per cent of the total 1,085 complaints received so far. When asked why a large number of complaints were from Vadodara, she said, “Even we were surprised. But we could not find any reason for it.”

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