Construction workers in India form the largest labour segment after workers in the agriculture sector. Their huge number at more than 2.57 crore and their job profile, which entails a lot of outdoor work, make them visible at every street and lane in a city or town.
Though they are a visible lot of workers - now more than ever before because the construction sector is booming - these 2.57 crore workers seem to be a mere speck on the government radar.
The Standing Committee on Labour in its latest list of recommendations has said that the government needs to pay more attention to the two laws that govern the rights of construction workers. These two laws are `The Building and Other Construction Workers (Regulation of Employment and Condition of Service) Act, 1996,’ and `The Building and Other Construction Workers’ Welfare Cess, Act, 1996.
"However, no monitoring is being done with regard to their implementation. There is neither any information on the constitution of State Welfare Boards nor there exists any proper infrastructure regarding training, and skill development for construction workers at present," the Committee noted in the report, which was tabled in Parliament in the Budget Session.
According to the Indian Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, "the construction industry has linkage with the rest of the economy in terms of generation of output and employment." But the government, as suggested by the Report, is doing little in terms of workers’ welfare, in which a sizeable chunk comprise women.
It has suggested to the government that it should, without any delay, initiate programmes and measures for the betterment of the workers, especially women workers.
The Report also brought up the issue of new categories of workers who now form part of the unorganised labour sector in the country. These include "personnel working with private security agencies, employees of call centers and workers engaged in private sanitation agencies."
It pointed out that at present these segments are not covered by any welfare scheme run by the government. It recommended that government should bring them within the unorganised labour segment and put them under the cover of the proposed bill that would give a social security cover to unorganised labour.