Construction workers agitate against poor labour welfare

Karnataka politics Top Story

Demand strengthening of labour laws and welfare schemes

The Construction Workers Federation of India (CWFI) held a protest at Mysore Bank circle near Chickpete on Thursday. The organisation demanded strengthening of labour rights in India. 

“Today and tomorrow, we have national agitation day. All workers from the construction industry are on the streets today,” said Mahantesh, National Secretary of CWFI. 

He spoke about a list of demands that CWFI would like the government to fulfill. Last year, the central government codified 29 labour laws into 4 codes to provide workers with higher security, health and welfare measures. Mahantesh said that CWFI wants the government to restore all labour laws back to its previous form. 

“We also want The Building and Other Workers’ Welfare Cess Act of 1999 to be reinstated,” he added. 

K.Harish Shetty, a member of the organisation mentioned some of the grievances faced by construction workers. He said, “The government has stopped issuing bus passes, the worker’s pension scheme is not provided and there is no specific financial help provided to the families of workers who have died on duty. ” 

During the second wave of covid, Karnataka government had announced that it will credit Rs 3000 to construction workers through direct cash transfers. Regarding this, Pratiban, district Vice president said: “The government had promised to give our workers Rs 3000. However, many workers still haven’t received the cash assistance.” A recent notification by Karnataka Building and Other Construction Workers Welfare Board said that 90% of the beneficiaries have received the amount and that the remaining 10% beneficiaries don’t have their bank accounts linked to the Aadhar card, hence these people will not be granted subsidies under the scheme.

Apart from financial issues faced by the workers, Chandrashekar D, the Bengaluru south district president, highlighted the issues of women construction workers. He said: “Women workers particularly face difficulty in this industry. With no toilet facilities as well as unequal pay, these women have to struggle everyday on field.” 

Mahantesh said that the organisation is also disgruntled about the increasing GST slabs. 

The Observer talked to an economics professor, Sampath V Sambasivan, who shared his opinion on the protest. He said: “GST revision is happening at a time when the overall economy is ailing under the after effects of the lockdown. The working class in India has been badly hit as a result of the3 lockdown. Studies have brought to light the depletion of savings and rising indebtedness amongst working classes. The protest of the workers needs to be seen in this context.” 

The organisation will hold another protest on 3rd December near Karmika Bhavan.


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