Special Correspondent

`Entry of multinational firms has worsened their plight'

AllegationsBuilders' lobby in Mangalore is very strongConstruction and labour welfare norms are being violated

MANGALORE: Construction labourers in the country should be given a better deal, B. Madhava, State president of the Karnataka State Building and Other Construction Workers Federation, has said.

"Their standard of living is poor. Most of them are malnourished, their children diseased and their future looks bleak," he said.

Mr. Madhava was highlighting the concerns expressed at the Asia-Pacific seminar on Construction and Wood Workers held in Tokyo recently.

He presented a paper, "Effects of globalisation and neo-liberal economy on building industry in the Asia Pacific Region," at the seminar.

He told The Hindu that the International Monetary Fund, World Bank and World Trade Organisation were trying to prevent the developing countries from spending funds on `unproductive' activities.

Housing programmes for the poor was being discouraged. This had worsened the standard of living of construction workers and pushed them to economic insecurity, he said.

Mr. Madhava said the entry of multinational construction companies into the country had led to a new mode of construction labour management, which was "inhuman and unethical."

Through decades of struggle, the working class had secured measures to protect their rights, but MNCs were not following the rules, he alleged.

Owing to liberalisation, public sector construction companies were in a crisis. Thousands of workers had been forced to go in for voluntary retirement schemes. These companies were executing jobs through contractors and this was affecting the prospects of permanent workers. Shares of certain companies were being sold to private parties, Mr. Madhava alleged.

Mr. Madhava alleged that the builders' lobby was so powerful that it had rendered Mangalore City Corporation Council helpless. Construction and labour welfare norms were being violated, Mr. Madhava alleged.

Migrant labourers from Bijapur and Bellary lived in sub-human conditions, he alleged.