Over 100 factory workers blocked the Agra-Delhi Highway on Wednesday demanding wages after their employer allegedly paid them salaries in demonetised currency before transferring money into their accounts. The workers have been unable to withdraw money as the employer has refused to give them a day off to stand in queues outside banks.
Tej Shoes employees blocked the highway near Khandari bypass and caused traffic snarls for over two hours. “He (factory owner) paid us old notes for first two to three weeks after demonetisation was announced,’’ said Vinit Dubey, a worker. “Later, when we refused to take old currency, which was actually of no use as shopkeepers were reluctant to take it, he asked us to share our bank account details.’’ The worker said that their employer has since credited their salaries in their accounts. “But we have been unable to access… (our accounts) as the factory owner had not allowed the workers to take a day off to queue up at the banks,” alleged Mahesh Kumar, another worker.
The workers removed the blockade after police pacified them saying that a case would be lodged against the employer if he pays them wages in old currency.
Tej Shoes owner Daljeet Singh blamed unhelpful banks and badly hit business for the situation. “We have asked banks to open accounts of workers but they are too slow. The workers think we are exploiting them while we actually do not have cash to pay them,’’ he said.
Station House Officer Raja Singh said that the workers were annoyed due to cash crunch. “What would they do with old notes and money in banks. They buy grocery everyday and need cash almost everyday.’’
Agra Footwear Manufacturers and Exporters Chamber president Pooran Dawar said that the city’s shoe industry employs 90 per cent people from the unorganised sector. “Some banks have also come up with mobile ATM’s to our factories, but that too was helpful only for those who had bank accounts.’’