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I. ORGANISATION

Karnataka State Construction Workers Central Union(KSCWCU) is an independent trade union working for the cause of construction workers in the state of Karnataka for the past 27 years. KSCWCU has a membership of more than 62,000 and is affiliated to National Federation of Construction Labour(NFCL), National Centre for Labour (NCL) and Building and Wood Workers International(BWI). npssmlKSCWCU played a pivotal role in launching the National Campaign Committee of Construction Workers for the Central Legislation(NCC-CL) headed by Justice V.R. Krishna Iyer in the year 1985. In the year 1996, Due to sustained struggles of KSCWCU and NCC-CL, The Building and Other Construction Workers (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service)Act 1996, was enacted during the Prime Ministership of Shri. H.D. Devegowda.

KSCWCU continued its struggles and pressurized the State Government to implement the Central legislation in the State by framing ‘State Rules’ and constituting the Welfare Board. The Board was constituted in the year 2006. KSCWCU organised series of campiagns in different districts of the state and mobilised construction workers to enroll in the Welfare Board.

II. CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY - ITS SIGNIFICANCE, SCOPE AND CONTRIBUTION TO THE ECONOMYnpssml

The construction industry today is a whirlpool of opportunities and advancements progressing at a very fast speed. It is vital because of the desperate need for infrastructure development. The level of a country’s development is reflected by its infrastructure. It could be said that the construction industry is the infrastructure of the infrastructure industry. Construction Industry is the second largest employer after agriculture, employing about 31 million persons in the country.
According to the “Construction Industry Report -11th Five Year Plan" published by Construction Industry Development Council (CIDC), the present asset creation potential of the construction industry is estimated at Rs. 3,10,000 crores. The share to the GDP works out 12 %, and in terms of the employment generation construction sector provides employment to 14 % of employable citizens. The manufactured goods (Construction materials and Equipment) accounts for approximately 8.6% of GDP included in the gross share defined above.
With over 105 bn pounds of investments promised by various private players in the next five years, India’s infrastructure is set to improve rapidly with an estimated compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 15 per cent. India requires investments worth 37 bn pounds every year for the next four years to support the planned infrastructure enhancement activities. The Planning Commission of India has estimated that investment requirement in infrastructure to the tune of about Rs. 14,50,000 crore or US$ 320 billion during the 11th Five Year Plan period.npssml
According to the Report released by ‘Associated Chambers of Commerce & Industry of India(ASSOCHAM) in March 2010, Construction Industry is estimated to create 15.13 million new jobs in the country by the year 2015. It is therefore established that construction, as an economic entity has a profound impact on the GDP and overall economy of the Nation. Combining the potential for employment & providing the critical infrastructure for practically every economic activity, the construction industry plays a decisive role in the development of the nation.

iii. CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY IN KARNATAKA–AN EVERGROWING, EVERGREEN INDUSTRY: Karnataka presents huge business opportunities for the construction industry, as the State is embarking on major infrastructure development projects in roads & flyovers, industrial infrastructure and power. Shri. V P Baligar, IAS, Principal Secretary, Department of Industries & Commerce, Government of Karnataka, delivering his inaugural speech at EXCON 2009 in the year 2009, said that the State Government is developing rural roads of about 10,000 kms at the cost of Rs 2,500 crore. It is spending US$ 1 billion every year towards infrastructure projects pertaining to roads and flyovers in Bangalore. The Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike will be spending Rs 22,000 crore – about US$ 4 billion, in the next 4-5 years, for various infrastructure project’s. The Bangalore Metro Rail projects estimated project cost is Rs 10,000 crore. Karnataka is the first state in India to promote as many as four minor airports in Public Private Partnership (PPP) mode. It has brought many regulatory changes to give fillip to infrastructure industry – the State has reduced the stamp duty from 7.5 to 6%, effecting about 20% decrease to give big boost to construction activities. The State is developing tier I and tier II cities across the State, towards which it will be spending US$ 200 million every year. To rebuild infrastructure in North Karnataka, which was affected by recent floods, the State government will be spending US$ 500 million in the next two years. According to Karnataka Industrial Policy(2006 to 2011), a minimum of 5,000 acres of quality industrial infrastructure would be created during each year of the planned period. Such Industrial Areas will be developed in an integrated manner reserving up to 25% of the area for housing and other social infrastructure. The State needs 1000MW of power –it has approved power projects with a total capacity of 20,000 MW and is spending Rs 5000 crore every year on power generation. Bangalore has the distinction of being the destination for a large number of Multi–National Companies in knowledge based industries and technology driven sectors and is today recognised as one of the Top 10 Technopolises in the World. According to a report released in February 2010, by the retail estate research firm, Cushman & Wakefield, Bangalore is the top real estate destination for commercial and industrial sectors. It has become third preference for residential and hospitality sectors in India for real estate investment. The report reinforces the result by adding that Bangalore may witness the demand of 34 million sq. ft. for office space in the next three years.

Establishing a practical and effective communication channel - npssmlKarnataka State Construction Workers Central Union(KSCWCU) is an independent trade union working for the cause of construction workers in the state of Karnataka for the past 27 years. KSCWCU has a membership of more than 62,000 and is affiliated to National Centre for Labour (NCL). KSCWCU played a pivotal role in launching the National Campaign for a ‘Central Legislation’ for the Construction Workers in the country under the leadership of Justice V.R. Krishna Iyer in the year 1986. In the year 1996, Due to sustained struggles of KSCWCU and the National Campaign “The Building and Other Construction Workers (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service)Act 1996, was enacted during the Prime Ministership of Shri. H.D. Devegowda.

IV. CONSTRUCTION LABOUR – PATHOLOGY OF INDIAN INDUSTRY: India has a total workforce of 459 million involved in the organised and unorganised sectors. Of which 433 million work in the various unorganised sectors. According to National Commission for enterprises in the Unorganised Sector (NCEUS), only 6% of the unorganised workers are organised. There are 26 to 30 million people working in the construction sector. In Karnataka, there are 2.35 crore workers, of which 1.73 crore workers are engaged in the unorganised sector. It is estimated that 12 to 15 lakh workers are involved in the construction activities in the state. The employment in the construction sector is characterized by its causal nature, temporary relationship between employer and employee, uncertain working hours, contracting and sub contracting system, lack of basic continuous employment and amenities and inadequacy of welfare facilities etc., Agrarian background, migratory nature and a very high degree of transitory employment characterize the profile of employment and labour in the construction industry. Government itself considers construction as a major source of employment generation in rural areas, where agriculture and landless laborers are provided employment on a temporary basis in construction activities to compensate for unemployment during the non harvesting seasons, droughts, floods and other natural calamities. npssml The construction workers are vulnerable to wide variety of health hazards and accidents due to non–existent legislative protection despite the enactment of the Act in the year 1996. With the exception of few states, majority of the states have not framed rules for the Act. Karnataka, Kerala, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Delhi are the states which framed State Rules to implement the Act. The main advantage of the construction sector in employment generation lies in the fact that it (i) absorbs rural labour and unskilled workers (in addition to semi-skilled and skilled) (ii) provides opportunity for seasonal employment thereby supplementing workers’ income from farming; and (iii) permits large-scale participation of women workers.

V. BLATANT VIOLATION IN IMPLEMENTING CENTRAL LEGISLATION IN KARNATAKA: The State Government has been implementing mega infrastructure projects in its pursuit to transform Bangalore into globally connected city and to upgrade the infrastructure in the tier 2 cities and towns of Karnataka. The state government has not taken appropriate steps to register all the workers working with its large infrastructure projects with the ‘Karnataka Building And Other Construction Workers‘ Welfare Board’, thereby excluding these workers from the purview of the Act. Out of 12 to 15 lakh construction workers in the state, Only 1.07 lakh construction workers are registered with the ‘Building and Other Construction workers Welfare Board. The Board has paid 67.63 lakhs for 1,148 beneficiaries in the past one year. The State Government has admitted that 540 crores is collected by the Board from builders for utilization for welfare schemes for the enrolled construction workers.

VI. VIOLATIONS – THE ORDER OF THE DAY: There has been large scale violations of Building & Other Construction Workers (Regulations of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 1996 in the government’s project sites, particularly provisions for providing basic amenities such as drinking water(section 32), provision of latrines and urinals(section 33), accommodation(section 34), creches(section 35), First Aid(section36) and access to canteen(section 37) facilities. The most shocking of all is the non compliance to safety standards (sections 38,39,40, 41 and 47). It has now clearly emerged that the State Government and its agencies such as Bruhat Bengaluru, Mahanagara Palike(BBMP) Bengaluru Development Authority(BDA), Public Workers Dept, Bengaluru Metropolitian Transport Corporation (BMTC) and Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation, Urban Local Bodies and Panchayats have been ruthlessly violating the Central Act.npssml The Infrastructure project sites of the above agencies witnessed large scale accidental deaths of workers and not adopting any of the preventive safety standards mentioned in the Central Act. The Metro Project implemented by Bangalore Metrail Corporation Ltd(BMRCL) has witnessed a series of accidents and deaths of construction workers. In the past one year, there has been seven major accidents in the construction sites of metro project in Bangalore. The Majority of the projects restricts to the implementation of safety rules only to the extent of providing helmets, safety belts, rubber shoes and other protective shields to the workers without adopting the safety standards at the worksite. The mega projects implemented by the Government and the private sector companies are the large scale violators of the Act. Rules 258 & 259 of the Building and Other Construction Workers (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) (Karnataka Rules) 2006 mandates for maintaining Register of persons employed as building workers and Muster Roll, Wages register, deduction register, overtime register and issue of wage books and service certificates to the workers. The employer/contractor does not issue appointment letters and wage slip to construction workers. The employer do not maintain muster rolls and other relevant documents which is required to implement the provisions related to basic amenities, health and safety of the Central Act. npssml In August 2009, KSCWCU highlighted the blatant violations of the Central Legislation in the State at the Seminar on Building & Other Construction Workers (Regulations of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 1996 And The Building & Other Construction Workers’ Welfare Cess Act, 1996. held on 9th & 10th August 2009 at Banquet Hall, Vidhana Soudha, Bangalore. The seminar was jointly organised by Karnataka State Legal Services Authority(KSLSA),BBMP, BDA, Dept., of Public Works, Dept. of Labour, Govt. of Karnataka, Karnataka Building and Other Construction Workers Welfare Board etc., These agencies promised to progressively register and enroll all the workers in the construction sites in Bangalore and other districts in the State. Even after a year, these agencies have not moved an inch to register the vulnerable construction workers with the ‘Karnataka Building and Other Construction workers Welfare Board.

VI. CONSTRUCTION LABOUR – MAJOR AREAS OF CONCERN
1.Helpline The State Government should establish ‘Helpline’ to provide help and support for the construction workers facing any type of risks and crisis while at workplace or at his/her dwelling. The ‘Helpline’ should be networked with workers, contractors, Builders, Trade Unions, NGOs, police, hospitals, Insurance Companies and Legal support system and other stakeholders. The ‘Helpline’ should inform the network members as accidents occur and also promote training programme to prevent accidents in the construction industry.
2. Upgrading Skills of Construction Workers The construction industry is characterized by the predominance of migratory and unskilled labour. On the otherhand, the construction industry has also become a globalised industry with global tenders and hi-tech machinery being introduced. Therefore, there is need to impart training and expand the training and skill certification programmes, both in terms of content as well as geographical reach. To encourage such training, incentives may be provided to contractors for funding the skill upgradation of construction workers. However, there is no institutional framework to impart training at the worker’s level, barring a few initiatives taken by the Construction Industry Development Council (CIDC) and some companies. In this regard, the welfare board can play a significant role in imparting different kinds of training to the construction labour. In the year 2007, The Confederation of Indian Industry(CII) announced establishment of ‘SKILL Centre’ in collaboration with the Karnataka Government for the construction industry. This centre will train construction workers to apply the latest equipment and subsequently produce a large army of super skilled construction workers in Karnataka. The application of latest equipment and technology will be encouraged by introducing better financing processes and also working out rentals of equipments at economical rates. npssml The training facility should be accessed by the registered and non registered workers. The performance of the ‘SKILL CENTRE’ should be monitored by the representatives of Construction Workers Organisations, Government and the Builders represented in the Welfare Board.
3. Need For An Exclusive Housing Scheme For Construction Workers
The construction workers who build houses for everyone, are denied of roof over their head, live in slums and temporary sheds denied of basic amenities etc., Hence, the State Government through its agencies should plan for housing for workers by bringing them together as groups based on the occupations carried out by them in the informal sector. The Beedi workers in the State are covered under the Revised Integrated Housing Scheme(RIHS). In the year 2003, Rajiv Gandhi Rural Housing Corporation(RGRHC), Karnataka Land Army Corporation and other agencies were involved in implementing housing schemes for Beedi workers at Kengeri in Bangalore. The Government of Kerala through its Kerala State Housing Board has been implementing the housing scheme for the unskilled labourers who migrate to urban centres for working in the construction sector. It has built affordable and decent housing to labourers. About 84 flats has been completed at three urban centres of the state. The preference has been given to the women construction workers in allotment of the flats. The Govt. should direct Karnataka Industrial Areas Development Board(KIADB) to provide land in the four zones in Bangalore to build houses for accommodating migrant workers.npssml
4. Increase the Quantum of Benefits in the Welfare Schemes for the construction workers The Karnataka Building and Other Construction Workers Welfare Board should collaborate with the major players in the Service Sector and Government’s Service providers to work towards convergence of welfare benefits. The board should jointly evolve delivery mechanism of benefits with service providers such as BMTC, Insurance Companies, educational institutions, hospitals, Financial Institutions, Different Govt. schemes (State & Central ) for BPL and APL categories to increase the quantum of benefits as well to provide more benefits to the workers.

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