Labour: The labour ministry will form an investigation team following a complaint letter, dated July 2, from temporary staff of Mangdechu Hydroelectric Project Authority (MHPA) submitted to the ministry.

The ministry received the letter on July 22.

The complaint is regarding the temporary staff of MHPA in Trongsa being deprived of benefits. It is claimed in the letter that some 200 temporary staff were not paid their monthly allowance of around 135 percent of their salary.

The project had recruited the staff on a temporary basis since the beginning of the project in 2012.

“There are over 200 temporary staff on consolidate basis working here in MHPA, some of whom have worked for more than three years and are still paid only temporary wages,” it stated in the letter.

According to the Labour and Employment Act of Bhutan 2007: “If an employer assigns the same or similar work for the same wages to an employee employed for one year or more, the employee shall be deemed to have been employed under a contract of employment,” meaning if someone is employed for more than one year in the same or similar job the employee shall get all the benefits and perks stated in the labour Act.

According to the letter, a female staff who was working temporarily for the project was paid Nu 40,000 as salary. Later, a separate post was announced, which the letter claims was “especially” announced for her.

However, officials from MHPA denied the allegations, adding that the female staff mentioned in the letter no longer works with the project and the letter “doesn’t make sense”.

The female staff worked for the project for almost four years.

The letter also mentions incidences where the project had recruited candidates without an open competition.

One of the temporary staff working in the finance division was paid Nu 20,000 as salary while the other graduates were paid only half the amount, according to the letter. Later, a vacancy was created for the graduate and he was made a permanent staff with the project.

Recently three more vacancies were announced at the project for the post of personal secretary, administration assistant and Sap administrator. The letter claims that the posts were already given to the selected candidates.

The Anti Corruption Commission has also sent a letter to the MHPA management to examine and take necessary actions and send a report to the Commission if the allegations are true.

Younten Tshedup