More than 50 per cent of State’s construction workers are unregistered

Of the approximately 10 lakh construction workers in the State, at least six lakh are yet to register themselves for the benefits they are entitled to, B.N. Bache Gowda, Minister for Labour and Sericulture, said here on Sunday.

He was speaking after inaugurating a workshop on Building and Other Construction Workers’ (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 1996.

As a result of the poor response to the registration, the Minister said, huge amounts of funds were left underutilised.

“From the 1 per cent welfare cess being charged, we have collected Rs. 1,231 crore. Nearly Rs. 6 crore has been distributed among beneficiaries. Almost Rs. 1,200 crore meant for the welfare of construction workers remains unutilised,” he said.

The funds include compensation for accidents, disability and death, as well as assistance for the education of workers’ children.

Bus to the doorstep

A bus, which would go to construction sites across the city and register workers, was launched before the workshop. Mr. Gowda said it was an initiative to create awareness on the benefits available to the workers. “Soon, they would be able to register online too,” he added.

Also participating in the workshop was Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar, who said, after agriculture, construction sector was the second largest employer in India. The State government had started several welfare measures for the welfare of construction workers, he said, adding that Rs. 520 crore had been allocated to the unorganised sector in this year’s budget.

Altamas Kabir, Supreme Court judge and Executive Chairman, National Legal Services Authority, New Delhi, spoke about the benefits of registration. “Most workers in Karnataka seem to be from States such as Jharkhand, Bihar and Assam. They have no identity before registration as they have no particular employer. After completing one project, they move on to another and the relationship is cut off. Once they register themselves, their details will be fed into the national database and their experience will be recorded,” he said.

The workshop was jointly organised by the Karnataka State Legal Services Authority, High Court Legal Services Committee, departments of Labour, Public Works, Factories and Boilers, Karnataka Labour Welfare Board, Karnataka Building and Other Construction Workers’ Welfare Board, Bangalore Development Authority, Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike and Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Ltd.