Welder awaits justice a year after workplace injury

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Welder awaits justice a year after workplace injury
Balan Vanakkara Ramankunju

Dubai - He received severe burns that left him lame in a chiller blast at his workplace.


Amira Agarib

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Published: Mon 23 Nov 2015, 11:00 PM

Last updated: Tue 24 Nov 2015, 10:49 AM

It has been over a year since Indian worker, Balan Vanakkara Ramankunju, received severe burns that left him lame in a chiller blast at his workplace. Ramakunju, 50, who worked at a Sharjah-based company's factory in Ajman for over 10 years as a welder, is still awaiting justice. On September 25, Ramakunju, who hails from Kerala, India, was instructed to carry out routine maintenance of a chiller in the factory.
Accompanied by a technician, Ramakunju went to the site, which had a large number of gas cylinders. Due to an error made by the technician, there was a blast that resulted in a fire.
Ramakunju was rushed to the Shaikh Khalifa Hospital in Ajman and then transferred to the Mafraq Hospital. He sustained 60 per cent burns in different parts of his body.
His left leg had to be amputated due to an open fracture in the foot. Several surgeries had to be performed, but a wound in his left ear was not healing and he had contractures on the eyelids and fingers. He was discharged in November 2014.
The Ajman Police took his statement, but the case remained unresolved.
Ramakunju went to India and returned after six months. He approached advocate Shamsudeen Karunagappally of Al Kabaan Advocates and sought legal assistance. The advocate approached the Ajman Police, which referred the case to the public prosecution and then to an Ajman court. He also filed a case at the Ministry of Labour to offer Ramakunju his dues. However, the company was not willing to pay the dues and the case was referred to the labour court. A hearing is scheduled to be held in the case today.
Meanwhile, the company filed a petition at the Ministry of Labour to evict Ramakunju from the labour accommodation. The ministry summoned both parties, after which it dismissed the petition.
Ramakunju told Khaleej Times that the company's owner tried to evict him by force. However, he refused to leave as he has no place to go. He said the company is threatening and harassing him "on a daily basis". Ramakunju has no money and has been living off his friends' generosity. "I only need the money to have my eye treated and get a prosthetic leg."
Advocate Karunagappally said the employer is also liable to pay him all the expenses for treatment and salary during the treatment period.

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