IL&FS Ethiopian JV’s Indian staff being held hostage by locals over salary dues

Nandana James Mumbai | Updated on December 01, 2018 Published on November 28, 2018

These employees work for ITNL-Elsamex JV Bure (a joint venture betwen IL&FS Transportation Networks Ltd and Elsamex S.A.)   -  REUTERS

Captives take to Twitter, say company refusing to send money to defuse crisis

In yet another spin to the IL&FS imbroglio, seven of its Indian employees in Ethiopia are being held hostage by the local staff since November 24 because of non-payment of salaries. This came to light after Chaitanya Hari, one of the seven stranded employees, took to Twitter asking Indian authorities to help them.

When contacted, Hari told BusinessLine, “The safety situation is getting worse day by day. In our camp, Indians are not allowed to go outside to bring food, water and other essential items. The local people fear that once we leave the camp, they will not get their salaries.”

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Nagaraju Bishnu, another employee held hostage, said their health is also at stake.

IL&FS declined to comment.

Neeraj Raghuvanshi, Nagaraju Bishnu, Sukhvinder Singh Khokher, Khurram Imam, Chaitanya Hari, Bhaskar Reddy and Harish Bandi are the seven employees being held hostage. These employees work for ITNL-Elsamex JV Bure (a joint venture betwen IL&FS Transportation Networks Ltd and Elsamex S.A.). The Indo-Spanish joint venture is engaged in road projects for the Ethiopian Roads Authority. They haven’t been paid their salaries since July. There are eight other Indian employees as well, who also haven’t been paid their salaries for the past five months, said Hari.

Hari, who has been working there since June 4, shared with BusinessLine an email sent by the employees to the Indian Embassy, the Spanish embassy, the Ethiopian Roads Authority and IL&FS. But there has been no action so far. This prompted them to share their grievances on Twitter.

Neeraj Raghuvanshi, another employee also held hostage, said in a tweet that IL&FS refused to send funds from India.

Pending statutory dues

As per the mail he shared, the joint venture company has failed to pay the local employees salaries for October and statutory dues (income tax, pensions and withholding tax) for the last eight months. It stated that as per Ethiopian laws, the person in charge of a project will be held accountable in case of default. And if he flees, then the people below him are answerable.

The letter said that while the 15 employees under the joint venture have been denied their salaries, ITNL is paying the salaries of its employees in India, and Elsamex is paying its employees in Spain.

Published on November 28, 2018
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