300 CPLs denied wages, 200 discharged by 48 BRTF: BRO workers’ union

[ Karyir Riba ]

TEZU, 18 Jul: The Lohit district unit of the Border Roads Organization Labourer’s Union (BROLU) has alleged that Demwe-based 48 BRTF 99 APO has denied wages to almost 300 casual paid labourers (CPL) working for the organization, and that nearly 200 CPLs have been discharged from duty amid the ongoing second wave of Covid-19.

The BROLU alleged that the 48 BRTF violated human rights and the labour law by depriving labourers of their means of livelihood during this unprecedented situation.

According to BROLU unit president Yalum Ama, the 48 BRTF has brought in labourers from other states to replace the local labourers who have been working under the organization for decades.

Ama said, “The labourers working under the BRO have been facing untold sufferings and hardships during the Covid period. Because of the rising cases of Covid in Lohit, the DA here had declared Demwe, which is the residential area of the 48 BRTF labourers, as a micro-containment zone in May, due to which the labourers could not attend their duties. Again, from 21 June to 7 July, the whole district was put under lockdown by the DA, which made it impossible for the labourers to attend their duties. Both the times, these CPLs have been deprived of their wages, while the Covid guidelines clearly mention that such labourers are entitled to their wages during the pandemic period. Not only were they deprived of their wages, they were also dismissed from their duties to be replaced by new labourers brought in from other states by the 48 BRTF.”

Lohit is one of the worst-hit districts by the second wave of the coronavirus.

Ama said that the BROLU had earlier brought the matter to the notice of the Lohit deputy commissioner, the district labour and employment officer, as well as the commander of the 48 BRTF, pleading for the due wages and re-induction of the local labourers.

“But unfortunately, our prayers fell on deaf ears. We don’t understand the rationale behind the induction of new labourers from outside the state by removing local labourers who have dedicated the prime period of their lives working for the BRO,” said Ama.

The BROLU has also written to the union road transport & highways ministry to “take cognizance of the matter and initiate necessary action to ensure that the grievances of the CPLs are addressed at the earliest.”

Meanwhile, when contacted, the OC of the 1444 BCC BRTF straightaway denied the allegations and said that “no such incident has occurred.”