CJP Impact: Four migrant workers from Birbhum district get long overdue wages CJP fellow’s intervention led to release of dues to the tune of Rs 1,80,000

31, Mar 2022 | Mohammed Ripon Sheikh

In yet another example of CJP’s community outreach empowering the ordinary Indian, four migrant workers from West Bengal, who had been denied wages for their work in Maharashtra, were finally paid their dues by their labour contractor.

Kiran, Raju and Kurban were unemployed and were stuck at home in Kathia village of Paikar area in Birbhum district West Bengal, for a long time. Hearing there was a need for labourers in Maharashtra, they migrated to look for work in the New Panvel area of ​​Mumbai. They did find work and toiled hard for months. However, they were in for a shock when they asked the contractor for their wages. According to Kiran, the contractor said, “I will give you the money in a few days.” Those ‘few days’ extended into several months but the workers did not get any money.

CJP’s Grassroots Fellowship Program is a unique initiative aiming to give voice and agency to the young, from among the communities with whom we work closely. These presently include migrant workers, Dalits, Adivasis and forest workers. CJP Fellows report on issues closest to their hearts and home, and are making impactful change every day. We hope to expand this to include far reaching ethnicities, diverse genders, Muslim artisans, sanitation workers and manual scavengers. Our raison d’etre is to dot India’s vast landscape with the committed human rights workers who carry in their hearts Constitutional values, to transform India into what our nation’s founders dreamt it to be. Please Donate Now to increase the band of CJP Grassroot Fellows.

Somehow surviving on handouts, loans and the kindness of others, the three friends were frustrated because the contractor repeatedly broke his ‘promise’.  They eventually realised that the contractor will not pay at all. It was then that they reached out to CJP, and got in touch with me in via tier contacts in West Bengal. They narrated how they had suffered at the hands of the contractor and how they barely managed to survive facing many problems in Mumbai.

I promised them I would do my best as a CJP Fellowship holder and reached out to their family to gather more information. Kiran’s mother told me that her son has been working in Mumbai for a long time and he had no option but to leave home in the hope of earning some money. His father is unable to work and earn an income due to old age. Kiran is the sole breadwinner of the family. “Kiran has not been able to send money home for a long time,” she said. It was very upsetting to hear the pain in Kiran’s mother’s voice.

Many others also asked me how it was even possible to get any pending money from a contractor from Mumbai? Kiran’s mother feared that “the boys may even get hurt if they tried to collect the money from the powerful contractor.” I promised her I would not let her sons be harmed.

Then I followed the training I had received as a CJP Grassroots Fellow and contacted the Labour Departments and the local administration in both Maharashtra and West Bengal. I followed the communication with the officials regularly and they responded. The work that had been stuck for over three months was solved in just three days!

Now under official pressure, the contractor handed over the arrears of Rs. 1,80,000 (Rupees One lakh and eighty thousand) to the four workers. He even made arrangements to safely send them home to West Bengal.

I informed the Labour Departments of the progress as well, and an officer told me the department “never wants any of the workers to be deprived like this.”  I had given them all the verified details of the workers as well as the contractor. The research and verification, helped the department take fast and appropriate action to ensure the contractor was forced to pay the labourers.

Migrant worker Kiran Sheikh told me of the horrific living conditions. “We were forced to live ina slum in an unhealthy environment. I went to work in the morning and returned in the evening.  After all the hard work, I was emotionally broken when the contractor did not want to pay us what we had earned,” he recalled, but added on a relieved note, “Finally we got our hard-earned money thanks to CJP, and came back home. We are impressed with the way the administration responded and helped us too.”

This is the second time, I as a CJP fellow, have been able to help migrant workers get their due wages from contractors. That was in Ranchi, Jharkhand.  I hope state governments soon open special offices for migrant workers who can register their names and details of their contracts so they are never cheated again.

This report is part of CJP’s Grassroots Fellowship Program, and has been written by researcher Ripon Sheikh, who is travelling around rural Bengal, tracking and documenting social and cultural movements of indigenous people.

Meet CJP Grassroot Fellow Mohammed Ripon Sheikh

Ripon Sheikh

This young man, who has graduated with a B.Sc degree from Burdwan University, loves trivia. Sheikh’s passion to research and seek “unknown information about World History” has earned him many medals and trophies at various University and state-level Quiz championships, and youth festivals. Sheikh is a born orator and a natural community leader. He has the potential to represent his community, state and country at a global level one day. His immediate goal, however, is to find a job so he can support his parents.


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