Provide more money to construction workers, welfare fund not enough: TUs

AM Jigeesh New Delhi | Updated on March 26, 2020

To help construction workers, Trade Unions have demanded the Centre to allot additional funds other than that from the Welfare Fund for Building and Other Constructions Workers.

The unions pointed out that the welfare fund is workers’ money and cess collected from builders. If it is used for Covid-19 relief it would be depleted. A number of applications from workers for availing this money for various purposes are pending with the State governments and diverting money from this fund will affect the future of workers and their families.

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had announced in a press conference on Thursday that there are around 3.5 crore registered workers under the welfare fund and State governments will be directed to utilise this fund to provide assistance and support to workers.

The Construction Workers Federation of India, one of the largest trade unions, urged Sitharaman to allocate additional funds from the exchequer. “What will be the fate of the pending applications in respective States? Will that be blocked? This is not Central government’s money. It is the money deposited by workers and cess collected from builders. Additional funds should be announced,” said senior leader of CWFI Debanjan Chakrabarti.

Funds inadequate

“The entire fund will be exhausted if even thousand rupees is given to the registered workers. The government should announce separate funds and ask the State Governments to help the workers and release the pending amounts by clearing pending applications,” Chakrabarti said.

He said migrant workers have lost jobs now. They cannot go back to their home states. They are facing problems in finding food and accommodation. Our union has about 20 lakh members, but very negligible presence among the six crore construction workers. The Governments should immediately intervene,” he said.

CWFI general secretary V Sasikumar wrote to Union Labour Minister Santosh Kumar Gangwar the workers will losedaily wages for at least two months. Under this critical situation we urge you to sanction ₹10,000 for each of the beneficiaries of the welfare board from the Central Government labour budget immediately,” the letter said. Meanwhile the ten Central Trade Unions said in a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi that door-to-door delivery of essentials like medicines, sanitation materials, food items should be facilitated. “The registered workers under various welfare boards be provided ₹5,000 as urgent measure,” they demanded.

“We demand concessions and debt-moratorium for MSMEs, small retail-traders, street vendors/self-employed, who are the worst affected by lock-down,” the letter said.

Published on March 26, 2020

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