No, going to the US for work does not mean a good pay packet for all Indians. A company in Fermont, California, has been caught paying eight Indian employees as low as $1.21 per hour last year. That is about Rs 75 an hour. The minimum wage in California during the period was $8 per hour or Rs 480.
The eight Indians from Bangalore were made to put in as much as 120 hours a week and not paid overtime, which is mandatory if workers put in over 40 hours a week.
Efi, or Electronics for Imaging, is a 25-year-old company that calls itself a “provider of products, technology and services leading the transformation of analog to digital imaging”.
Interstingly, the company told NBC it “unintentionally overlooked laws that require even foreign employees to be paid based on local US standards”. The US Department of Labor called the incident “outrageous and unacceptable”, but ended up fining the Silicon Valley company a paltry $3,500 as fine.
According to Associated Press, the company has been asked to pay more than $43,000 in back wages and penalties. The workers were helping the company move its headquarters from Foster City, California, to Fremont, California, during a three-month period, according to the Labor Department.
Incidentally, “world leader in customer-focused digital printing innovation” had just recently announced its Q3 revenues to the tune of $197.7 million. The company generated revenue of $728 million last year, when the misconduct occurred.
Instead of overtime pay, the company gave the Indians unspecified bonuses while paying the transferred workers the same wages they normally received in their normal jobs in Bangalore, India. The workers were even paid in rupees while in the U.S.
Michael Eastwood, a Department of Labor assistant district director, told AP that the abuses at Electronics for Imaging were among the most outrageous he had ever seen — even worse than problems he had seen at garment factories in southern California. “This is worse than anything that I ever saw in any of those Los Angeles sweatshops,” Eastwood said Thursday.
(With inputs from Associated Press)