With Governor Biswa Bhusan Harichandan quickly responding to their plea for help, 23 migrant workers from Odisha, most of whom are women, have at last been freed from the “clutches of a labour contractor” and sent to their native places.
About 400 workers had come to the State through some intermediaries and joined Sandhya Marines, an aqua unit at Palakol.
A labour contractor, Srinivas, who provides workforce to the company, has allegedly been harassing the workers and collecting money forcibly from them.
The workers, with the help of a leader from Odisha, had approached the Governor at Raj Bhavan in Vijayawada on Thursday, and poured our their woes to him and sought his immediate help.
Responding to their plea, Mr. Harichandan directed West Godavari Superintendent of Police K. Narayan Naik to look into the issue.
The workers later met Mr. Narayan Naik in Eluru, who arranged a vehicle for them to reach Palakol. Mr. Narayan Naik too visited Palakol and interacted with all the workers and inquired into the allegations.
“The workers, all native of Kendrapara district in Odisha, had came to Palakol a few months ago and joined the aqua unit. The company is paying them ₹400 to ₹500 per head for processing shrimp. Mr. Srinivas is allegedly collecting the money given to them by force,” Mr. Narayan Naik has said.
Mr. Narayan Naik and Narsapuram DSP P. Veeranjaneya Reddy interacted with the workers as well as the company, and also enquired about the facilities being provided by the management.
“Based on the complaint, we have registered a case against the contractor in the Palakol Town police station. Twenty-three workers, mostly women, have said that they want to return to their native villages. We have arranged transportation and sent them on Friday,” Palakol CI Ch. Anjaneyulu said.
“The company has been directed to constitute an Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) and arrange a complaint box on the unit premises. About ₹1 lakh cash collected from the workers has been recovered and handed over to workwers. Stern action will be taken against those who harass the migrant labourers,” the DSP warned.
“The company management has treated us well and paid wages promptly as per the agreement. But the contractor has harassed us. We thank the Andhra Pradesh government and the officers for responding to our problem and sending us back,” the migrant women said.
Mr. Narayan Naik directed the company representatives to follow the Labour Laws and Rules, provide proper accommodation, drinking water, toilet and medical facilities to the workers.
The migrant women thanked the Governor, the SP, the DSP and other officers for helping them return to their native places.