Workers, mostly from North India, hired by labour contractors of Bharati Shipyard at Tannivbhavi have struck work and launched a protest against non-receipt of wages for the last six months. With the contractors passing the buck saying their bills are not being cleared by the company, the workers have refused to attend work since 20 days and on Monday held a meeting near the premises of the Shipyard.

They were in no mood to listen to the explanations offered by executives of Bharati Shipyard, a private sector shipyard. “You might have come here after breakfast. That is not the case with us. We are struggling even for a meal for the last few days,” said a worker to an executive.

The workers’ salary is pending since January this year. On Monday, they staged a protest demanding explanation from the Managing Director of the Shipyard, which is one of the six yards of the Mumbai-based Bharati Shipyard Limited.

Suresh Yadav, a native of Bihar, who has been working here for the last three years, said absence of salary for the last six months has driven many of them to abject poverty.

“Shop owner has stopped giving grocery on credit. House owner has already asked us to vacate. The last few days have been difficult,” he said. Another labourer, Ajai Singh from Uttar Pradesh, said house owners have been cutting electricity in the night. “We already have heavy debts with shop owners,” he added. .

The workers alleged the Shipyard Management had not bothered to address their problems. “They have just made us work by assuring us of salary (early clearance of bills). But they have not bothered to do so,” another labourer Maurya said. “Only today, when police has come, they are talking about the piquant situation they are in,” he added.

Workers refused to hear Mangalore head of the shipyard V. Sequeira’s plea to employees to resume work. “Give us money. Only then can we work,” a labourer said.

Anand Singh, a contractor, under whom 25 labourers work, said contractors had run out of money for labourers.

“We had managed when there was delay of one month. But clearing six months’ pending wages is too difficult,” he said.

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