OVER 300 were booked on Tuesday for lockdown violations and other offences as workers of Arihant Spinning mill in Malerkotla clashed with police and district administration, demanding full wages for the lockdown period. While some workers said they got injured in police lathicharge, the Malerkotla SDM, DSP and a police officers also sustained minor injuries in stone pelting by workers.
The Arihant spinning mill is operated by the Vardhman Group.
Sources said over 300 workers protested outside the mill Monday night and alleged they had not been paid full wages, but were kept inside the unit during the entire lockdown period. Many were not wearing masks and not following social distancing.
The protesting workers alleged that they were not being allowed to move out of the unit and were even being forced to buy groceries inside at costly rates.
One of them said, “If someone would fall sick, they used to give medicine without any medical examination. Many of us have been given less salary. We have not been given any reason for deducting our salary.”
The workers were later taken inside the unit, but a few claimed they got injured due to lathicharge by police Monday night. They alleged that among the injured were women as per the videos circulating on social media.
SDM Vikramjeet Panthey said he went to pacify them, but a few of them started pelting stones. “I got injured on my hand,” he said.
DSP Sumit Khanna also sustained a minor injury.
On Tuesday morning, a meeting was arranged between the workers and government officials. The SDM said, “We are trying to resolve the issue. Talks are still on.”
Late in the evening, Vardhman released a statement stating that, “a handful of workers…created unrest on Monday evening when they were denied wages for the period they had absented and did not come for work.”
The unit, after taking required permissions from the local administration, had resumed manufacturing activity on April 11 during the lockdown period and workers were kept inside as per condition of administration.
The statement added that on the resumption of manufacturing operations, around 1,350 workmen who were staying inside the factory complex were called to work. About 64 per cent of these workers were present on all days of work and were paid full wages based on the actual number of days worked. About 20 per cent were absent for 1-2 days while the rest were absent for more than 2 days and some of them even absent for up to 15-17 days. All those who remained absent were paid wages based on their actual attendance. All of them were paid for the days of plant shutdown on the basis of average attendance during the last three months, the statement said.
The management also paid workers who were available but could not be called for work due to restrictions on the same basis of average attendance in last three months, said the statement.
“The grievance came from a handful of workers who had been absent for more than 2 days and some of them even for 15-17 days on the ground that they have got lesser wages even though it is purely on account of neglect on their part,” added the statement.
Vardhman claimed to have followed a “just and fair approach”, and asked the workers to inform the unit management if anyone feels their wages are less.
When asked about the lathicharge, SSP Dr Sandeep Garg said, “I am not aware of any such incident…We will investigate the matter.”
No ration, not being sent home: over 500 Migrants protest in Ludhiana
Around 70 trains left Punjab Tuesday with more than 90,000 migrants on board to UP, Bihar, Jharkhand and MP.
However, over 500 migrants came out Kakowal Road, Ludhiana, and protested alleging that they were not being sent to their home states. They alleged that though SMSes were received by many, only a few were allowed to board the trains.
Police used mild force to disperse the protesters. Most of them were not wearing any masks and ignored social distancing norms. The migrants also alleged they had nothing to eat and no money left. Migrants from Bihar claimed they were not getting any ration.
Till 8 pm, 15.5 lakh migrants had registered themselves on the governmentportal to go back to their home states, of which 7.9 lakh were from Ludhiana.