House is the place which has lot of importance in the lives of all the human beings. As a human being, we all dream for a own and beautiful house. Every individual dream for building a house. With the increased demand for the construction structures or architectures the demand for building and other construction workers has also been increasing. The construction industry has demand for plenty of workers and so do many people enter into the field of construction industry as it doesn’t demand any particular qualification or complicated skillset. We all keep seeing how many construction workers keep working on road sides or outside exposing themselves to sun, rain, winter or dust. The nature of work involved itself is very hard but instead of people being respected about the risks they take in their work, or the physical hard work they do in their occupation, construction workers not treated with much respect. They are treated as of low status.
The remuneration given for the work in less, they lack basic facilities of clean drinking water, toilets, etc., many times they are asked to stay in huts or half constructed houses to complete the work structures. Even though many efforts have been done by governmental and nongovernmental organizations, the circumstances and conditions of the workers has not changed much. The building and other construction workers welfare act 1996 has prescribed all the financial measures for the upliftment of the construction workers. The Building and Other construction Cess act prescribes about the collection of Cess from the Builders. The Karnataka Building and Other Construction Workers Welfare Board is working in the implementation of the act and the process of registration of construction workers as the beneficiaries of the board to avail the different benefits is ongoing process. The construction workers working under many construction companies are registered under the board and many trade unions or NGOs are facilitating the process of registration and availing the benefits from the Board, But most of the building and other construction workers are not directly aware about the karnataka building and other construction workers welfare board and not showing much interest in the process of registering or availing the benefits as visiting the board means losing one day wage for them.
The construction companies eventhough they are registering employees under the board, most of them are migrating from one place to another place and keeping the track is very difficult. Most of the workers involved in construction work are migrants. Lack of employment opportunities in villages, no land for cultivation or low interest in cultivation, disasters etc., are push factors. Industrialization, employment opportunities, life style in the cities are the pull factors for migration of the people. Most of the migrants take up the occupation of construction work. Even though we think that construction work doesn’t require any skills but in certain tasks of construction work, the skill set is required, a person must know the proportion of cement, sand and water to be mixed so there are skilled, semi-skilled and non skilled workers in the field of construction work. We can see that the construction work is always in demand and wherever you move from place to place, there is always demand for construction workers as at all the places there are people, there are requirements for buildings and there are requirements for architectures. Even though the millions of people are involved in the field of construction work, major part of the unorganized sector consists of the construction workers. These people are the most vulnerable part of the society and there is a need for the study on their status and need for suggestive measures for the upliftment of these people.
Legislation related to Building and Other Construction Workers: According to an estimate, More than 8 million people are engaged throughout the country in Building and Other Construction Work*. They are the most vulnerable segment of the unorganized sector in India. Eventhough so many people are working in the construction field, we find that there is no much significant importance given to these workers. Their work is temporary in nature, the relationship between employer and employee is temporary, working hours are uncertain. The welfare facilities provided to these workers are inadequate. Risk to life or an organ is also inherent. In absence of adequate provisions to get the requisite information regarding the number and nature of accidents is quite difficult. The responsibility of taking corrective measures is not an easy job. Although the provisions of certain central legislations are applicable to the building and other construction workers yet there is a need for regulating the safety, welfare and other conditions of service of these workers. .
Construction workers are employed in the construction industry and work predominantly on construction sites and are typically engaged in aspects of the industry other than design or finance. The term includes general construction workers, also referred to as workers and members of specialist trade such as electricians, carpenters and plumbers etc.
The Building and Other Construction Workers (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 1996: Most of the Building and Other Construction Workers belong to the underprivileged section of the society. These workers and their families are facing so many problems in the society and eventhough many attempts are made by the government and non-government organizations, the measures are insufficient to improve the socio-economic status of these workers. Need has been felt for a comprehensive central legislation for regulating their safety,health,welfare and other conditions of service, the state governments and union territory administrations were consulted and majority of them favoured such legislation.
For the said purpose, it has been considered to bring in a comprehensive legislation by suitably amplifying the provisions of The Building and Other Construction Workers(Regulation of Employment and conditions of service)Bill,1988 which was introduced in the Rajya Sabha on the 5th December 1988. It has also been considered necessary to levy a cess on the cost of construction incurred by the employers on the Building and Other Construction Works for ensuring sufficient funds for the Welfare Boards to undertake the social security schemes and welfare measures. As parliament was not in session and in view of urgency felt by the Government for meeting the long standing demand for the aforesaid legislation, the President was pleased to promulgate The Building and Other Construction Workers (Regulation of Employment and conditions of Service) Ordinance, 1995 along with another ordinance for the levy of cess on the 3rd November, 1995.
A Bill namely The Building and Other Construction Workers (regulation of employment and conditions of service) Bill, 1995 was introduced in Lok Sabha on the 1st December 1995, to replace the aforesaid Ordinance by an act of the Parliament. Bill having been passed by both the houses of parliament received the assent of the President of India on 19th August 1996.This act came on the statute book as- The Building and Other Construction Workers (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 1996.
According to the Building and Other Construction Workers (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 1996. act “Building or Other Construction Work” means the construction, alteration, repairs, maintenance or demolition of or in relation to, buildings, streets, roads, railways, tramways, airfields, irrigation, drainage, embankment and navigation works, flood control works (including storm water drainage works), generation, transmission and distribution of power, waterworks (including channels for distribution of water), oil and gas installations, electric lines, wireless, radio, television, telephone, telegraph and overseas communications, dams, canals, reservoirs, watercourses, tunnels, bridges, viaducts, aqueducts, pipelines, towers, cooling towers, transmission towers and such other work as may be specified in this behalf by the appropriate Government, by notification but does not include any building or any construction work to which the provisions of the Factory Act, 1948 (63 of 1948), or the Mines Act, 1952 (35 of 1952), apply;
“Building Worker” means a person who is employed to do any skilled, semi-skilled or unskilled, manual, supervisory, technical or clerical work for hire of reward, whether the terms of employment be expressed or implied, in connection with any building or other construction work but does not include any such person-(i) who is employed mainly in a managerial or administrative capacity; or (ii) who, being employed in a supervisory capacity, draws wages exceeding one thousand six hundred rupees per menses or exercises, either by the nature of the duties attached of the office or by reason of the power vested in him, function mainly of a managerial nature;
The provisions of the main act are mentioned below:
1. Provision for an advisory committee at the central and state levels with the function to advise the governments concerned on such matters arising out of the administration of the act as may be referred to it.
2. Provision for registration of each establishment within a period of sixty days from the commencement of work to ensure that there are no malpractices and to discourage non-compliance of law by circumventing,
3. Provision for registration of building workers as beneficiaries under this act.
4. Provision for constitution of a Building and Other Construction Workers’ welfare board by every state government to exercise the powers conferred on, and perform the functions assigned to it, under this act.
5. Provision for immediate assistance in case of accidents, old age pension, loans for construction of house, premia for group insurance, financial assistance for education, to meet medical expenses, etc.,
6. Provision for health and safety measures for Building and Other Construction Workers.
7. Provision for constitution of safety committees in every establishment employing 500 or more workers with equal representation from workers and employers in addition to appointment of safety officers qualified in the field.
8. Provision for penalties of fine and imprisonment for violation and contravention of the act.
As explained above, to ensure the effective implementation of this act, it has been considered necessary to constitute Welfare Boards in every state so as to provide and monitor social security schemes and welfare measures for the benefit of Building and Other Construction Workers. But there is need for creating awareness among the construction workers about the welfare boards. Some of trade unions and voluntary organizations in Bangalore are working on the creating awareness about it and also assisting the workers in the process of registration and also in terms of availing the benefits from the board. Whether the implementation of this act and working of the welfare board has really has any impact on the conditions of the construction workers are to be analyzed.