They work 12 hours for Rs 400
KOCHI: The lot of migrant labourers in the city does not seem to be getting any better, even in prestigious projects. Over 12,000 labourers working in different projects of Cochin Refinery are reportedly living under inhuman conditions. They have been put up in just about 36 labour camps made of tin sheets with no adequate toilets, fans and beds.
Of the 12,000 workers, almost 9,000 migrant labourers from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar live in labour camps in Vadavukodu – Puthencruz panchayat and surrounding areas.
Cochin Refinery officials and MP P Rajeeve visited the camps on Sunday. These labourers have been hired by construction companies such as Larson and Toubro Ltd, Fab Tech, ABM, KSS and SR, which have won various contracts for Cochin Refinery projects.
“Migrant labourers complained that though they work for 12 hours a day, they are paid only Rs 400. Some are lucky to get Rs 600. Labourers have complained that they get salaries only after their agents take their cut from wages. If any migrant worker in the camp falls ill, then they have to go for treatment on their own as the service of doctors is limited only to few camps,” said Rajeeve.
Around 1,500 labours are lodged in a camp situated in 15th ward at Vadavukodu – Puthencruz panchayat. Each block in the camp has 20 rooms and houses nine labours in each room. They have only two kerosene stoves to cook in each room. They don’t have facilities such as cupboards for keeping cloths and lie on grass straw mats on the cement floor. Each room has two fans but, workers said that they were not enough in the summer to beat the rising temperature.
Water used for bathing from the water tank is not available after 10am, they said. Though electric wiring has been completed in many toilets, bulbs have not been fitted. Although there is a mess, food is cooked for only 100 labourers. There are no facilities for keeping groceries or waste treatment facility to burn wet and dry waste together. Most of the camps are functioning in the 14, 15 and 16 wards of the panchayat.
As many labourers don’t have bank accounts, they are being exploited by middlemen and agents. But refinery officials and people who supervise the camps said there were difficulties in opening accounts in the names of workers who were not permanent employees.