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Stonemasons' London Windfall Changes Their Life in India
on 2000/12/31 8:49:02 ( 1071 reads )

Source: The Sunday Times, London

DUNGARPAR, INDIA, December 17, 2000: Sharda Suthar, 30, and her family live a simple life in a tiny village in northwest India, until last week, when the illiterate mother of two heard that her husband, Suresh, 32, was one of 16 Indian stonemasons who had been awarded up to US$13,433 in back pay for their work on a Hindu temple in Wembley, north London. They had won a legal battle against employers who paid them as little as 45 cents an hour, less than a tenth of the minimum wage. In the villages of southern Rajasthan, it is a fortune. "We'll be able to build our own house and send the boys to good schools," said Suthar. "Perhaps my husband will also be able to start his own business." Such luxuries were unheard of even after Suthar was recruited in 1998, for $246 a month to be paid in cash back home. News of the windfall spread rapidly last week in Thana with newspapers still being read out to those who had never had the chance of an education. "Prosperity in the village will increase," said Deepak Acharya, a spokesman for the local authority. "Of course the money will not be for everyone, but for a few families and their relations it will be very good." Now that they are earning the minimum wage of $2.41 an hour, the men are happy to stay on in London.

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