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The BBC's Stephen Evans
"Back in India, this would be a large fortune"
 real 56k

Monday, 11 December, 2000, 12:18 GMT
Indian workers win 100,000 pay-out
The workers were all recruited in India
The workers were all recruited in India
Indian stonemasons who were paid just 60p an hour have won 100,000 in compensation from their employers.

The 10 men, who all come from the same area, lived in a shack on the site of a temple in North London and were paid a fraction of the minimum wage.

They were enticed to work in Britain by a promise that they would earn twice the wages they would get in the northern province of Rajasthan.

Their employers, Shirco Ltd, based in North London, will have to pay them retrospectively to bring their salaries up to the minimum wage of 3.70.

The 10,000 each will receive is the equivalent of a large fortune in India, where they were earning between 5,000 (117) and 8,000 (150) rupees a month.

Shirco Ltd have been ordered to pay the money to the workers following an investigation by the Inland Revenue. It is backdated to April 1999, when they started working on the site.

As a devout Hindu, it troubles me that workers could be treated in such a way

Arvind Ladwa, workers representative
The Department for Education and Employment has confirmed that it is investigating allegations that Shirco Ltd supplied false information to their Overseas Labour Service department when it secured work permits for the men.

A spokeswoman confirmed that the company could face prosecution for not paying the minimum wage.

Their average hourly wage was a fraction of the 22 an hour that many qualified stonemasons can earn.

The workers' representative, Arvind Ladwa, said the case had disturbed many in Britain's one million strong Hindu community.

"As a devout Hindu, it troubles me that workers could be treated in such a way."

Indian workers
Their pay was less than 10% of the minimum wage
One stonemason earned just 125 a month for an eight hour a day, six-day week. The men had their passports taken from them when they arrived.

They had been told that, if they disobeyed, they would be sacked and have to make their own way back to India.

The men were working on the construction of a 7m Sanatan Hindu temple in Alperton, north London.

Their plight was uncovered by a BBC News investigation and was followed up by the Low Pay Commission.

Shirco Ltd is owned by the Shri Vallabh Nidhi-UK charity, which is still being investigated by the Charities Commission.

No-one from either Shirco Ltd or the Shri Vallabh Nidhi-UK charity was available for comment.

Shirco Ltd's chairman is Nalinikant Pandya, who has won a MBE for his services to the Indian community.

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30 Sep 00 | Business
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