Exploitative working conditions: 55 workers, including 22 minors, rescued from Saharanpur brick kiln - Hindustan Times
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Exploitative working conditions: 55 workers, including 22 minors, rescued from Saharanpur brick kiln

By, Lucknow
Mar 21, 2024 09:47 PM IST

The accused employers have been named as the owner and accountant of CBF Brick Kiln, who had reportedly employed the labourers 5 months ago.

Fifty-five labourers, 22 among them minors, were rescued from a brick kiln at Kumarheda, in Saharanpur on Tuesday evening on directions from the district magistrate’s office. An FIR has been lodged against the employers, who were allegedly withholding pay from the workers for over two months.

For Representation Only (Reuters File)
For Representation Only (Reuters File)

The accused employers have been named as the owner and accountant of CBF Brick Kiln, who had reportedly employed the labourers 5 months ago. The payments that came in fortnightly had, for the last couple of months, been stalled. The labourers claimed that the employers had promised sanitary working conditions, medical aid and education for the children as well, none of which had been met on top of their wages being withheld.

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The youngest labourer was 11 years old, among other children and toddlers who were rescued. The employees recounted that making complaints resulted in them being physically abused and threatened. One of the workers on March 14 recorded a video of the working conditions, and with details of the abuse being meted out at the kiln reached out to social workers from child rights NGO Bachpan Bachao Andolan. The NGO then escalated the complaint to the relevant state departments as well as the National Human Rights Commission and the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights.

The district magistrate of Saharanpur, Dinesh Chandra, directed that a rescue team be formed to free the labourers and issued a letter to the Senior Superintendent of Police, Saharanpur, as well as the Assistant Labour Commissioner and the District Child Protection Officer of Saharanpur. The team included the police, as well as representatives from the labour department and child protection unit, among others.

The DM’s letter stated, “Work is done at the brick kiln from morning to late night, which is against the law and is a violation of Article 24 of the Constitution.” The article forbids the employment of children below the age of 14 in any hazardous industry, factories, or mines, without exception. The letters continued, “We expect that, in the best interest of the minor children and adults once they are freed, their outstanding minimum wages get paid, and legal action be taken against the concerned persons.” The addressees have been asked to provide reports after investigating the matter.

As for the children rescued, they were presented before the Child Welfare Committee (CWC) once rescued on Tuesday and have received counseling and reunited with their families since.

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