(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
October 12, 2008
Construction Workers Organise March To Parliament
AT the call of Construction Workers Federation of India (CWFI), a march to the parliament was held on 26 September 2008 in New Delhi.
More than 5000 construction workers including 500 women construction workers came from 15 states - Kerala, Karnataka, Tamilnadu, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, J&K, Orissa, Haryana, Jharkhand, Assam, Tripura, Manipur, West Bengal, Rajasthan and Delhi. The workers wearing a badge and carrying red flags and placards with their demands, took part in the parliament march.
R Singaravelu, president, CWFI, presided over the meeting. The workers’ rally was addressed by M K Pandhe, president, CITU, Md Amin, general secretary, CITU, Tapan Sen, secretary, CITU and MP, Lakshman Seth, MP and Debanjan Chakraborty, general secretary, CWFI.
All the leaders congratulated the workers for participating in this impressive rally. They said pressure through struggle has to be mounted on both the central and state governments to implement the Construction Workers Central Act in the states and to set up Welfare Board to provide the social security benefits to the registered workers like pension, house building loan, medical assistance, children education assistance, maternity benefit, accidental compensation etc. Further, they said that the Indian migrant workers working in other countries also have to be protected. Anti-worker attitude and role of unscrupulous recruiting agents must be checked. Labour Laws of the receiving countries must be implemented for protecting the Indian migrant workers.
The rally was also addressed by Raghunath Singh, general secretary of Punjab state committee of CITU, Kasmir Singh Thakur, general secretary of Himachal Pradesh state committee of CWFI, Pravat Singh, (Haryana), Susena Tirkey (Jharkhand), Suresh Routh Ray (Orissa), Tapan Sharma (Assam), Pranab Majumder (West Bengal), Uppal (J&K), K V Jose (Kerala) and others and urged for continued struggles against new economic policies of the government of India.
From the dharna manch, a delegation comprising Tapan Sen, Lakshman Seth, R Singaravelu, Debanjan Chakrabarti and Pravat Singh and K V Jose, met the Labour minister, Oscar Fernandez in his chamber.
A memorandum was submitted by the delegation. During discussions, the minister told that ‘Rastriya Swasthaya Bima Yojana’ has been extend to 2.26 crores of construction workers in the country. This means about seven crore construction workers’ family members will be covered by this health scheme. In this scheme, the registered workers will get a Smart Card. This card will help the family members to get medical treatment facilities covering up to Rs 30,000 in any government hospital and the scheme approved other medical/health institutes all over India. The minister said that this card will be provided to all the interstate migrant workers also. On the basis of our demand, the Labor minister assured of his consideration that registered women construction workers should get their pension at the age of 50 years. We have demanded that in Haryana, Karnataka and Pondicherry, CITU representatives were not taken by the respective state governments inspite of our big organisation. Labour minister assured of looking into this matter.
Further in the afternoon, another delegation comprising of Tapan Sen, Debanjan Chakrabarti, R Singaravelu, K V Jose. Ignitius Akkara, Vijay Misra, Suresh Routh Ray met Vayalar Ravi, minister for Overseas Indian Affairs and submitted a memorandum. In a cordial and frank discussion, we expressed our worries about the miserable working and living conditions of Indian migrant workers working in other countries. The minister on our request handed over the copy of the Memorandum of Understanding of the government of the United Arab Emirates and government of India on migrant workers protection issue in UAE. On our request, the minister will send comprehensive guidelines taken by the government of India on the issue of protecting migrant workers and also provide the helpline numbers of Indian Embassies to help the Indian Workers abroad. He also agreed to give advertisements in newspapers and TV channels to protect them from unscrupulous recruiting agencies.
On our request, the minister has agreed to call national seminar on these vital issues involving all the central trade unions. The minister promised to immediately redress the grievances and problems of the workers that are brought to his notice. The dharna ended with a vote of thanks and by offering red salute to all the comrades who came to participate in the parliament march programme.