ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

A+| A| A-

State Apathy towards Construction Workers

Where are the cess funds and welfare boards for construction workers decreed more than a decade ago?

The Supreme Court’s recent directive to all states and union territories to file a status report on implementation of the Building and Other Construction Workers (Regulations of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act and the Building and Other Construction Workers Welfare Cess Act, both of 1996, is significant. Notices to the states had been issued in 2006 but apart from a few who filed sketchy affidavits, most of the states simply failed to respond. The construction industry in India employs 17 million workers (according to a 1999-2000 survey by the National Sample Survey Organisation) on a daily basis; a large majority of these workers are illiterate migrants vulnerable to exploitation.

The court was hearing a public interest litigation filed by the National Campaign Committee for Central Legislation on Construction Labour, which has for long campaigned for implementation of the two laws though it recognises that they are far from perfect. The laws enable the states to levy a cess of 1 per cent of the construction cost and use it for the education, health and safety of the workers and their families and are applicable to establishments employing 10 or more workers and to projects costing more than Rs 10 lakh. However, the benefits of the cess fund and the welfare board, meant to ensure that the workers are not at the mercy of individual employers for social and medical security, are available only to registered workers. In most of the states (Kerala, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu and Madhya Pradesh are among the exceptions) the workers are hardly aware of these laws and the near total absence of registration means that the benefits cannot reach them.

Dear Reader,

To continue reading, become a subscriber.

Explore our attractive subscription offers.

Click here

Back to Top