Resident says she was not paid wages

The Sree Chithra Poor Home administration may have to answer for serious labour law violations with one more resident of the home filing a complaint with the Kerala Legal Services Authority on Friday. The latest complaint is related to the work that some of the residents are doing in a printing press located in the same compound.

Speaking to The Hindu on condition of anonymity, the complainant said that it is a case of labour exploitation as they are provided meagre amounts annually in the name of ‘bonus’ for close to 8 hours work daily.

“Most of us who work there were not allowed to complete our studies. Even if we fail in just one subject, mainly due to the lack of a conducive atmosphere to study, the administration refuses to give us the fee to be remitted for the ‘Save an year’ examination. We are asked to join for work in the press or tailoring shop right away”

“In the press, work starts after 9 a.m. and it continues non-stop till 5 p.m. These days, we are not getting even public holidays. But we get an amount of around Rs. 3,000 as bonus annually. There are no monthly or daily wages. At the same time, four daily wagers appointed from outside work in the same press and are paid daily,” said the complainant.

In a complaint filed last week, another resident had alleged that she was paid a total amount of Rs.28,500 as bonus, after working for 8 years.

The printing press generally takes up government work only, mainly that for forms and documents needed in hospitals. The Public Service Commission is also one of the clients.

“The workers from outside do the machine work, of just printing the material. We have the task of stitching and binding it. We sometimes get cuts on our fingers from working with the threads. We are appointed here as trainees but the work can be learnt in one week’s time, ” said the complainant.

The District Labour Officer had visited the home on Friday following the complaints.

When The Hindu contacted the Home’s Superintendent Eliamma Varghese, she said that the residents are being paid “20 per cent of the profit from sales based on their individual work and the daily wagers from outside are paid Rs. 350 per day”.

“For the residents, we give an annual bonus, which is handed over to them when they ask for it. If there are complaints, we will take action according to the directive of the labour officer,” said Ms. Eliamma.

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