The Supreme Court expressed its concern for workers’ welfare on 19th March. The court has now issued directives to the government to ensure social security for the workers’ in India.
The bench consisting of Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta said, “There is total lack of concern and apathy on the part of the powers that be in doing anything substantial for the benefit of construction workers. This is indeed an extremely sorry state of affairs that puts a Shakespearean tragedy to shame.” A 57-page judgement was delivered on the same.
The 28,00 crores sanctioned for workers’ welfare has been lying stagnant. This is because governments that have come and gone have barely used the funds meant for the healthcare and safety of the construction workers. These workers according to the Court play a huge role in ‘nation-building’.
The government has been collecting money in the name of various workers’ acts not really ensuring that it reaches the workers. In 22 years 37,400 crores were collected and only 9,500 crores out of this amount have been put to use to help workers. The social welfare is supposed to include, provident funds, maternity leave, minimum wage. The court said that this section of society has been let down immensely by the government in which it puts its faith. The laws that were passed in 1996 was meant to curb the exploitation of the workers, but neither dignity of labour was assured nor the quality of life.
The court also pointed out that no single advisory committee has come together to discuss and resolve these issues in 12 months. The Court has asked the government to treat construction labour as a formal sector. It’s about time they did so. The Court maintained that if a change isn’t made, the workers will not get what they are entitled to constitutionally. It goes to show, the cost of development and growth comes at the loss of quality of life for those who actually do the groundwork of building our visions, our homes, and cities. Forget the government, when has the layman shown them the respect they deserve?