Indian workers face slave-like conditions in Sri Lanka


Indian workers face slave-like conditions in Sri Lanka

R. Shreeharan and Ivan Weerasinghe

10 December 2018

World Socialist Web Site reporters recently spoke with about 30 young Indian workers currently employed on an electricity power-line project in rural Sri Lanka. The highly exploited workers are forced to live in overcrowded and squalid conditions and not paid for long periods of time.

Most of the workers are from Kargalo village, Hazaribagh District in the northeastern Indian state of Jharkhand and were recruited by the Chennai-based Krishna Power Company. The company has won a contract from CEYLEX Power Company to build high-voltage power lines in the Galewela area in Dambulla, which is located in north-west Sri Lanka. The Indian and Sri Lankan companies are the beneficiaries of the gross exploitation of these workers.

Workers crammed in a dilapidated room

The workers are living in a dilapidated house in Katupotha village in Sri Lanka. Their accommodation has no proper sanitation facilities and lacks safe drinking water. The young men are sleeping on rugged mats and surviving on the most rudimentary meals.

The Krishna Power Company persuaded the men to sign an agreement that gave it total control over them, including taking their passports in exchange for a guaranteed monthly wage. The promised monthly wage was just 18,500 Indian rupees ($US261) with an additional 4,000-rupee monthly allowance.

The contract company violates even Sri Lanka’s limited labour laws, forcing their employees to work almost 16 hours a day, without any overtime payments, and neglects basic safety procedures at the dangerous project. The Indian workers, who have limited education and only speak Hindi, have not been paid for the past three months. With the assistance of the local…

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