BWI affiliates from India, All Himachal PWD-IPH & Contractual Workers Union (AHPWDIPHCWU) delegation today met ADB directors in its Head office in Manila to discuss the workers' complain on back wages occurred on ADB funded road project in Himachal Pradesh State (India), Kiratpur-Nerchowk Four Lanining Road Project (NHAI). The delegates headed by Mr. Sita Ram, President- AHPWDIPHCW, Himachal Pradesh State, India including Mr. Arun Kumar one of the aggrieved worker of IL&FS from the ADB funded project in Himachal Pradesh, included; Mr. Rayyan Hussan Executive Director of NGO Forum on ADB, Annabel Perreras, Advocacy Coordinator & Mr. Tilak Jang Khadka- BWI South Asia Campaign Officer.
The BWI has already filed complaint to the ADB on 26 June 2019 on the labor violation in the ADB funded project Accelerating Infrastructure Investment Facility in Himachal Pradesh, India. The project was implemented through the Asian Development Bank’s (ADB) contractor Infrastructure Leasing & Financial Services (IL&FS). The complaint is now in the ADB Compliance Review Panel -CRP and assessment is going on of its eligibility which will be released on or before 26th of September 2019. The delegation met and interacted with Mr. Jacob Henderson, US Adviser to ADB and compliance committee. Similarly the delegation also met and interacted with Dr. Kshatrapati Shivaji- Indian Executive Director to ADB who also represents Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan. As the union, "All Himachal PWD-IPH & Contractual Workers Union (AHPWDIPHCWU)" has been raising the issues of work site workers, Forced labor beyond working hours, Absence of legal labor contracts, Forced weekend work Absence of social security coverage for the workers and their families, Violation of core labor standards, Non-compliance with the norms of freedom of association and collective bargaining, No specific facilities for women workers, Gross violation of occupational health and safety (OHS) and first-aid facilities at the work site. Due to its management issues the principal contractor of the project: IL&FS abandoned the worksite in July/August 2018 on grounds of financial crisis/bankruptcy, leaving the workers with thousands and thousands of rupees unpaid wages and benefits. After failing to resolve issues locally, they now come to ADB Headquarters to share their grief. There is more than 22 million Indian Rupees (about 300 thousand USD) back wages of workers in the project. As a responsible union leader from India, Brother Saini requested to the ADB officials to take step forward to solve the labour issues and also requested to resume the work and provide the employment opportunity to the workers who are eagerly waiting out there in project site in Himachal. The grass root workers who worked for the ADB funded project are out of wages for several months, now they are facing challenges to their survival, and needs immediate solution to releasing their back wages. It is also a matter of humanitarian issues and urgent atteion. During the interaction with ADB officials Brother Sain highlighted that how his union- AHPWDIPHCWU is supporting to the project sites by creating awareness on OSH, rights and responsibilities at the worksite as well as fair treatment of labour and social dialogue for productivity and quality of work. He further assured to the ADB officials that Unions are not against any development programs but they support to make it more good governance, sustainable, transparent and inclusive to its stakeholders. The union has big hope and full trust with ADB for its consideration to address such issues. Union also urge ADB to improve and regulate its safeguarding policy for workers like them who have nowhere to go when the company/contractor abandons the worksite and also the workers.