- 88 children among the 300 workers rescued from Tamil Nadu brick kiln
- They were being forced to work up to 20 hours a day without proper salary
- Over 300 workers rescued from the same kiln last year, allege activists
The workers, all of them from Odisha, were brought into Tamil Nadu last year in November. The kiln owners exploited them by paying an advance of Rs 12,000 to each family.
Since then, the 101 families were being given a meager wage of Rs 200 a week each for making bricks. The families who loaded bricks got Rs 240 per week.
The police came to know of the kiln's forced labourers after one of them was beaten up by his employer and admitted in a government hospital. An NGO, International Justice Mission, who met the injured worker, informed the police.
The workers said they were forced to leave their home state of Odisha after a drought left them with no livelihood. "We had to accept whatever came our way," said one of the workers.
Activists have alleged that over 300 workers were rescued from the same kiln last year. The say the owners had evaded arrest after a police case and employed more people this year through fake agents in Odisha.
Mathew Joji, spokesperson of International Justice Mission said, "The fine is just Rs 2,000 under the Bonded Labour Act and they don't fear repeating it. We hope things would change once the new law against human trafficking is put in place".
The rescued families are on their way home to Odisha where the state government would give Rs 20,000 to each family for rehabilitation.
But many workers are in debt due to drought and unemployment in the state, and fear that returning home could be worse for their families.