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Sunday, December 17, 2000

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'Employer refuses to pay compensation'

By Our Staff Reporter

BANGALORE, DEC. 16. For Shiva this could well be the end of the road. This 14-year-old boy, an operator in a corrugated box manufacturing unit on Kanakapura Main Road, had three fingers of his right hand cut while working on a cutting machine on Thursday.

Speaking to presspersons here on Saturday, Shiva's mother, Renuka Bai, claimed that the family, out of fear for the employer, did not lodge a complaint with police about the incident.

According to Shiva, the employer has "ordered" the other workers in the unit not to mention the incident to anyone and told them to say that the boy lost his fingers while playing near the machine because of his negligence, if questioned by the authorities.

The people in the neighbourhood asked Shiva's mother not to inform police as this would backfire against them as police would file a case against Shiva's family for sending a minor to work, Renuka Bai said.

Shiva was hurriedly taken to a nearby hospital by a few persons from the manufacturing unit and the wound was dressed. "They did not even allow us to take the remaining part of my fingers which had fallen in the factory," says Shiva.

A resident of Subramanyapura, Shiva had been working at the unit for a little over a month after he was taken out of school by his mother so that he could provide for the family.

With an unemployed asthmatic father, whose medical bills are footed from Shiva's salary, which is Rs.600 a month, and two sisters, one of whom is working in a garment manufacturing factory, Shiva had little choice but to discontinue his studies.

Mr. B.Shreepathy Rao, President of Bangalore Labour Union, who has taken up Shiva's case, said the employer could be brought to book under the Child Labour (Prevention) Act and Prohibition of Bonded Labour Act. "The factory does not even have a first aid facility, and it is a case of gross negligence," he said.

Ms. Praveena and Mr. Arun P., lawyers who are handling the case, said the employer refused to pay medical expenses for Shiva's treatment and was also not willing to pay compensation.

Mr. Rao mentioned that a complaint would be made to the Commissioner of Police, Mr. T.Madiyal, against the owner of the manufacturing unit.

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