IL&FS hostage crisis: Ethiopian staff seek four months’ salary to release Indian staff

Nandana James Mumbai | Updated on January 04, 2019 Published on January 04, 2019

The Indian employees have secured a written undertaking from the local employees that states they will allow the release of the former once this payment is made   -  REUTERS

Company ready to pay scaled-down ransom but silent on dues to Indian workers, says employee

In a respite to the four Indian IL&FS employees in Ethiopia, the local employees have reduced their demands and are now seeking four months’ salaries to release the Indians.

Earlier, the demand was for eight months’ salaries. This is a drop from the initial 12.4 million Ethiopian Birr (ETB) to around 5 million ETB.

“The IL&FS management in India has told us (the four stranded employees) that they will pay this additional amount to secure our release,” Chaitanya Hari, one of the stranded employees, told BusinessLine.

However, IL&FS declined to comment on this.

The Indian employees have secured a written undertaking from the local employees, seen by BusinessLine, which states that they will allow the release of the Indian employees once this payment is made.

Silent on salaries

Meanwhile, IL&FS remains silent on the matter of the salaries of these Indian employees, as well as the other three employees who were released. “IL&FS is ready to pay ransom to the Ethiopians, but is silent on our legal salaries, which has been pending for the last six months,” said Hari.

According to a source, a letter from the Prime Minister’s Office of Ethiopia about the Indian employees’ release is being circulated in the government administration offices. This might be due to pressure from the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), said the source.

However, a source at MEA said that the Ministry doesn’t have “anything new to add” on this issue. This could be the reason why the ERA and local administration are now being lenient.

Local staff under pressure

The stranded employees feel that the Ethiopian employees have been facing pressure from both the Ethiopian Roads Authority (ERA) and the local administration regarding their release.

“It seems like the local employees are now trying to get whatever money they can before the police force or administration takes full charge of our situation,” said Hari.

These employees work for ITNL-Elsamex JV Bure, a joint venture between IL&FS Transportation Networks Ltd and Elsamex SA, which is engaged in road projects for ERA.

The joint venture company had failed to pay the local employees salaries for two months and statutory dues (income tax, pensions and withholding tax) for the last eight months, which led to the house arrest of the Indian employees.

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Published on January 04, 2019
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