Skip to main content

Ahmedabad construction workers show signs of unrest, unite to demand higher wages, social protection

By Our Representative
In what seemed to be their first-ever show of strength, representatives of Ahmedabad’s construction workers, over 1,000 of them, came together to demand a sharp rise in their wage from around Rs 200 to Rs 250, which they get now, to Rs 500. Organized by the Majur Adhikar Manch, which claims to represent them, the demands included provision of basic amenities, including livable shelter for eight to nine months of the year they work in Ahmedabad, proper sanitation and drinking water facilities, apart from better working conditions, health facilities, school and anganwadi (creche) for their children near their workplace.
“Most of the workers come from faraway places such as Gujarat’s eastern tribal belt, and parts of Saurashtra, apart from neighbouring states, especially Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. Driven by lack of employment opportunities at their place of living, they brought to Ahmedabad with the promise of a viable job opportunity. Even then, in Ahmedabad they get employment for just about 15 to 20 days, not beyond. All this makes their situation particularly vulnerable”, said a representation they made to the Manch before Ahmedabad district collector. The meeting, called by the Manch, was held near Subhash Bridge in the city.
The representation regretted, the construction workers are not covered under any law, including the factories Act, the contract workers’ Act, the inter-state migrant workers’ Act or the minimum wages Act. “These laws are rarely enforced. The workers do not form part of the workforce of the builders on whose sites they work. They are all contract workers, and small time contractors hold complete control over them. No labour laws are applied to protect them. They are not entitled to any leave if they wish to go to their home in case an emergency befalls. In fact, they virtually work as bonded labourers – often they do not get their wages till the contractor does not recover his part of the commission”, the representation said.
Referring to a Government of India directive under the construction workers’ Act, 1996, under which a welfare board for construction workers was established by the Gujarat government in 2005, the representation said, “Till 2008, not one construction worker was provided with any social protection by making him member of the board, as required by the law. On August 21, 2008, the Gujarat government came up with a resolution which said that those workers who have worked for 90 days at a stretch and provide certificate can be members of the board to avail of social protection”, the representation said. However, as most construction workers could not bring any such certificate, not more than 2000 of them could be its members. “This working of the board suggests that the government, the builders and the contractors work in unison to exploit the construction workers”, the representation alleged.
Apart from demanding higher wages for the construction workers, the list of demands include a provision of Rs 1,000 per day as per day wage to masons, registration of all construction workers in properly maintained attendance registers, providing workers with attendance cards, providing them with salary slips along with salary, which should clearly state their relationship with the owner. “They should all be made members of the welfare board so that they are covered under the insurance schemes provided by it”, the demand said, adding, “A large number of construction workers become victim of accidents. They do not get any compensation. Provision should be made for that, too.”
Among those who addressed the meet included Nitin Gurjar, Narendra Saankhaliya and Amrish Patel of the Gujarat Federation of Trade Unions, and Ambalal Chouhan, president Eent Bhatta (brik kiln) Majur Union Gujarat. During their speeches, they denounced the builders and the government for failing to address the abominable work conditions and low wages, and lack of social security, as well as absence of health, childcare and educational facilities in spite of the right to education Act.
Secretary of the Majur Adhikar Manch Ashok Samrat told the workers that the deputy labour commissioner, Ahmedabad, has invited the union for tripartite talks with the builder's association, as it has threatened to go on an indefinite strike if the demands are not heeded. A labourers' committee with union representatives and labourers from different parts of the city was formed to coordinate the future action plan. The meeting ended following a decision to go on strike in the new year in case talks with the authorities concerned fails.

Comments

ALSO READ

India failing to dictate diplomatic preferences of Nepal, Bhutan, is unfairly blaming Beijing: Chinese daily

By Our Representative
In a sharply-worded editorial, a top Chinese media outfit, described by BBC as state-run, has said, commenting on India's foreign relations with its neighbours, that "speculation and suspicion" is "certainly not diplomacy". Published in "China Daily", the largest circulating English Monday-to-Saturday newspaper with branches across the world, the editorial notes (September 20) that "several recent events" in Nepal and Bhutan, are "gnawing worrywarts in New Delhi".
The editorial -- which comes close on the heels of a sharp critique of India's foreign policy in a state-supported Russian media outfit, Sputnik International, calling India's anti-Pak diplomacy as having "gone awry" following Prime Minister Narendra Modi's "half-baked" push for anti-terror drill down "others' throat" -- says, the " worrywarts" include "Nepalese troops taking part in a joint…

Ahmedabad, GIFT, Adani city get 1.68 lakh acre ft Narmada water; Gujarat's rural areas just 4.27 AF: Letter to CM

Counterview Desk
Well-known farmer rights leader Sagar Rabari, in an open letter to Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani, has demanded a transparent account of Narmada water, saying, while he has received a "routine reply" from him to his earlier, the data emerging from his RTI application show huge quantity of water being directed to Ahmedabad, the 10 km stretch of Sabarmati for the Ahmedabad riverfront, and nearby elite urban areas, including the Adanis' Shantigram township and GIFT City.

Accused of being RSS plant, Modi man, Hyderabad Urdu varsity chancellor asks President to probe "irregularities"

Counterview Desk
Refused entry in the Maulana Azad National Urdu University (MANUU), the central university's newly appointed chancellor Firoz Bakht Ahmed, who claims to be grand nephew of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, has, in a letter to the President of India, said that MANUU vice-chancellor (V-C) Dr Aslam Parvaiz has accused him of being an RSS plant and a Modi man, whose sole aim is to "interfere in the working of the university".

17 lakh Jharkhand elderly, widows, differently abled do not receive pension: Public hearing told, aadhaar is a hurdle

By Our Representative
Hundreds of elderly, widows, single women and differently-abled persons from different districts of Jharkhand gathered near the Raj Bhavan in Ranchi for a public hearing organized by the Jharkhand Right to Food Campaign and Pension Parishad demanding the right to universal social security pensions ahead of World Elderly Day on October 1.

Ethnocide in Caribbean island filmed following award winning docufilm on Jamaica's anti-colonial Indian roots

International awards winner for Best Feature Documentary Linda Aïnouche for “Dreadlocks Story” (2014), which shows how Indians are entangled in the Jamaican society, and how Hinduism was a source of inspiration for the Rastafari movement, is all set to release her new documentary, “Marooned in the Caribbean”, which aims at documenting the awful desolating living conditions that Raizal people, the native inhabitants of San Andres Archipelago, endure.
Sons of slaves, these islanders have fallen prey to what the Colombian government calls Colombianization. “It’s a process”, according to her, “which kills the Raizal culture; it’s the killing of the Raizal soul. Colombianization subjugates Afro-descendants of San Andres to an ethnocide.”

Explorer, director and producer, Linda Aïnouche writes exclusively for Counterview: ***
Nobody escapes from blood and thunder in Colombia, and definitely not in the archipelago of San Andres, situated closer to Managua and Kingston than Bogota. The Raizal p…

India to deport Rohingya refugees, as the world moves towards prosecuting Myanmar for genocide

By Tapan Bose*
Seven Rohingya Muslims refugees who were held at a detention centre in Assam since 2012 will be handed over to Myanmar. The Supreme Court of India has refused to stop their deportation. The new Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gagoi said, "We are not inclined to interfere on the decision taken".

An elite Kutir set up by Modi far from the "madding" crowd: This Gandhi museum is formal, unapproachable

By Rajiv Shah
Have you ever heard of a Gandhi museum, sough to be projected as the “largest” on the Mahatma, yet totally inaccessible, in sharp contrast to Ahmedabad’s humble, approachable and unassuming Gandhi Ashram on the banks of Sabarmati, set up by the Mahatma during the heydays of the freedom movement? It exists about 30 kilometres away, its idea was conceived by none other than a person who has today become even more inaccessible than he ever was: Narendra Modi, India's Prime Minister.

Gujarat BJP MLAs, youth leader "incited" attack on North Indians: Cong releases video

Counterview Desk
Senior Gujarat Congress leader Shaktisinh Gohil, currently in charge of Bihar and national spokesperson, All-India Congress Committee, has sent a legal notice to chief minister Vijay Rupani threatening criminal case and civil defamation suit for accusing him with "baseless statement" that he was responsible for attacks on north Indians in Gujarat.

History less known: Kasturba's role as an independent woman and a freedom fighter in her own right

By Nandini Oza*
Even the most deserving of women do not find a place that equals their worth in history. Kasturba is one such woman whose contribution to India’s struggle for freedom has been exemplary, and yet, it has not received the recognition it deserves. Kastur Makhanji Kapadia was born in the year 1869, the same year and in the same town of Porbandar in Gujarat as Gandhiji. In fact she was older than Gandhiji by a few months.

Poor response to tenders for Gujarat's bid for the world's tallest statue, no international firm shows interest

By Our Representative
The Gujarat government’s claim that its decision to build the world’s highest statue in the world, in the memory of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, would attract “tremendous” response top international construction companies, has gone phut. The state government floated international tenders in August to build the statue, which is slated to be 182-metres high. Despite the “international” character of the tenders and big claims, well-informed Sachivalaya sources close to Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi say, “not one international firm has come up to offer to carry out the construction activity.”