Indian employees held hostage in Ethiopia by unpaid staff

Four employees working for an Indian company named IL&FS are being held as hostages in Ethiopia after the company has failed to pay salary to the Ethiopian employees, Khaleej Times and Business Insider are reporting:

(KHALEEJ TIMES)- India has asked Ethiopia to investigate a report that employees of an Indian company, Infrastructure Leasing and Financial Services (IL&FS), have been taken hostage by staff in Ethiopia, a government source said on Saturday.

Seven Indian employees of the debt-laden IL&FS company have been held hostage by Ethiopian staff because of non-payment of salaries, according to messages posted on Twitter by those saying they were being held.

An Indian foreign ministry official said India’s government was discussing the matter “on priority” with Ethiopian authorities and the management of IL&FS.

“We are doing our best to ensure a settlement of this matter,” said the official, who declined to be identified.

An IL&FS spokesman in India declined to comment.

The Indian government took control of IL&FS last month after it defaulted on some of its debt, triggering wider concerns about risk in the country’s financial system.

The infrastructure financing and development company had over the years developed road, township and water-treatment projects in India and abroad.

(BUSINESS INSIDER) – The hostage situation involving the four Indian IL&FS employees in Ethiopia is spiraling out of control with the Ethiopian Road Authority (ERA) backing the local staff’s demand of 12.4 million Ethiopian Birr (ETB) from the company for their release.

“The Indian embassy here is only assuring us that we will stay alive and that the Ethiopian Ministry has given its word that we won’t be killed. They are concerned only about our safety at the camp. They have no power to free us from this hostage situation,” Chaitanya Hari, one of the stranded employees, told BusinessLine.

Earlier, the ERA was against the demand for additional payment as there is no clause to pay extra months’ salaries for the termination of the project, said Hari. It was during a meeting held on Friday to resolve the issue that the ERA joined hands with the local employees in backing their demand for fresh payment.

The meeting involved members of the Indian embassy, ERA representatives, an IL&FS employee of the company sent to resolve the issue, the local contractors and the labor union leaders.

“After Friday’s failed meeting, the locals have become more violent. They have stopped our water and food supply,” said Hari.