Penden Cement Authority Limited (PCAL) has agreed to provide benefits to its muster roll employees, the labour ministry has confirmed.

Labour director, Sonam Wangdi, said this was decided in a recent meeting between its team and the PCAL management in Gomtu, Samtse.

The cement-manufacturing establishment was asked either to lay off the muster roll employees or to keep them with the mandatory benefits provided.

“They have decided to give the benefits in principle,” the director said, adding that it was likely to come through next month.

He said that this comes after PCAL completed the draft organisational development (OD) exercise. “However, the PCAL board has to first approve the draft OD.”

Sonam Wangdi said the benefits would be provided depending on the employees’ respective salaries. “Only those who would remain with the organisation after OD would be entitled to the benefits.”

The matter came to the limelight after PCAL muster roll employees appealed to the labour office in Phuentsholing regarding their regularisation earlier this year.

Despite working for more than 10 years with the company, some employees were not regularised, contradicting the Labour Act that mandates employees who have been working in the same work on same wages for a year or more be deemed employed under contract.

There are 135 such employees awaiting regularisation.

Although the daily wage increased at the time of pay revision, these employees complained that they were not regularised and did not receive any other increment.

Muster roll employees are categorised as national workforce (NWF) and paid Nu 215 a day today. Prior to the last increase, an NWF was paid Nu 175. Before that, it was Nu 130 and Nu 100.

NWFs are also not paid for working on Sundays, leave, and public holidays.

Employees also told Kuensel that PCAL managed to skip regularising the NWF with the company’s system of renewing the contract of the muster roll employees every three months.

It is called as “contract of employment for daily wage or casual workers.”

The NWF employees said that the only facility they received was the staff quarters to live in, which they claimed helped them to sustain.

A PCAL official also confirmed to Kuensel that the muster roll employees would be eligible for all benefits as per ESP and GSP after the OD is approved.

“If it is not approved, labour and PCAL officials would go for another round of discussion,” the official said.

Rajesh Rai