Labour: Two months after receiving a letter of complaint about a violation of the labour Act from temporary staff of Mangdechhu Hydroelectric Project Authority (MHPA), the labour ministry is still waiting for further information to begin an investigation.

According to the ministry, the letter has been submitted to a higher authority for interpretation of Chapter V and contracts of employment of the Labour and Employment Act of Bhutan 2007.

Only after receiving a response from a “higher authority” will the ministry begin its investigation, said an official.

Labour minister Ngeema Sangay Tshempo said that the ministry is still waiting for two documents, the entire list of workers at the project and the legal interpretation of the Labour Act.

Chapter V of the Labour and Employment Act of Bhutan 2007 states that “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.

The complaint letter, dated July 2, says that the temporary staff of MHPA in Trongsa are being deprived of benefits. It says that the project has been recruiting staff on a temporary basis since the beginning of the project in 2012.

According to the letter, there are over 200 temporary staff on consolidate basis working in MHPA. Some have worked for more than three years and are still paid only temporary wages.

The letter also mentions the practice of nepotism at the project during the recruitment processes. Incidences where employees with equal qualifications getting exorbitant wages while some getting only half the salary is also mentioned with examples in the letter.

Further, the letter says that an employee who was working temporarily was sent to Delhi for a training, which the labour rules don’t allow.

The ministry received the letter on July 22.

Younten Tshedup