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Capacity Building for the Promotion of Labour Rights for Vulnerable Groups of Workers


Study Report

Naka Workers (Construction Industry)

Undertaken by

The Ambekar Institute for Labor Studies, Mumbai

Sponsored by

European Union

Report Naka Workers (Construction Industry)


Chapter 1. Chapter 2.

Introduction Profile of Indian Construction Industry and Its Labour Conditions of Naka Workers


Chapter 3.


Chapter 4. Annexure I

Summary and Conclusions Report of the Public Hearing on Women Construction Workers, Mumbai. Report of the Public Hearing on Women Construction Workers

33 38

Annexure II


Chapter 1. Introduction 1. a. Background Significance of Construction Industry The construction industry is a global industry known for its generation of jobs at different skill and professional levels. In terms of value of its output, its global market is reported to be around $1.5 Trillion as on today. But only a small portion of it is distributed among its workers. In world labour market, construction workers are said to be over 100 millions, constituting 6-7 % of the world labour force. India is well accepted to have reached the stage of rapid economic growth, but not rapid social development. Poverty, unemployment and inequality constitute the major problems that India faces, especially from equity and social development points of view. Indias labour force is predominantly unorganized, unskilled, poorly paid, of low productivity and unprotected. Among the various sections of unorganized labour, the labour in the construction industry is a large section suffering from poor working conditions and adverse terms of work. The construction industry in India is the countrys second largest economic activity after agriculture. Migrant workers constitute a large section of construction. Work is often carried out under hazardous conditions with high accident rates compared to the manufacturing sector. Safety consciousness is yet to percolate at the actual construction sites. There are many small firms/contractors less disposed towards compliance of labour laws and safety requirements. Influence of construction industry spans across several sub-sectors and infrastructure, such as industrial and mining infrastructure, roads, ports, railways, airports, power system, irrigation and agricultural system, telecom system, hospitals, townships, offices, houses, and drainage and sewerage system. There are many laws and regulations applicable for the construction industry but their implementation has been notably poor. There is also high incidence of child labour in this industry. Attention to their working conditions and welfare is of recent origin. After several attempts the Building and Other Construction Workers (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act 1996 was passed which provides for the establishment of construction workers welfare board on a tri-partite basis. However, the position of the construction workers continues to be unsatisfactory and much needs to be done beginning from mapping the profile through the primary data data on different aspects of construction labour to specific measures for the benefit of this labour. 3

1. b. Naka Markets of Construction Workers With growing Indian economy construction industry in housing sector in cities and upcoming urban areas is booming. A special feature of this section of the construction industry and its workers is the presence of Naka Markets at street corners in prominent places in urban areas. The institution of Naka Market consists of construction workers with diverse skills, has tremendous potential if supported by appropriate policies and organizations. A typical Naka Market is a place where construction workers assemble in the mornings. Builders and petty contractors come there and hire the workers for the day. In city like Mumbai skilled workers get about Rs.400/- per day, less skilled one get about half this amount. But since these workers are unorganized they are often exploited by those who hire them. Their number is anybodys guess though it is reported that there are over 80 such markets in Mumbai and its suburbs, providing hope of causal employment to over 100,000 unskilled, semi skilled and even skilled labour required in this industry. 1. c. Need for Study The construction workers, especially those who depend on Naka Markets face a number of problems like lack of continuous employment, inadequate wages and absence of social security. Among these problems, the most important and significant is the nonavailability of jobs on a permanent basis. It is felt that if there are some facilitating agencies that can help in mobilization of these workers and address to their problems in getting them jobs, guiding and helping them to get training to acquire better skills or even multi-skills etc. and also their problems at the work and in living, then the lot of these workers can be improved. This will also raise the workers as well as industrys competitiveness creating a win-win situation for all. Hence the present study was outlined to understand the status of the working and living conditions of these works together with the perspectives of the employers and other related agencies concerned with the industry and its labour force. 1.d. Expected Output There is no dearth of literature focusing on the problems of unorganized workers in general. Social scientists are also aware of the problems of construction workers to some extent. But there are not many studies on Naka workers and identification of their problems. On reviewing whatever studies on Naka workers were available, it was felt that some regular institutional arrangement may help them to resolve their problems. The study was therefore planned to understand the plight of Naka workers and to come out with a regular institution, may be called as workers service centre. That will be an expected output of the study and the project. 4

1. e. Plan of the Report

The Report of the study has been presented in four chapters. Theintroductory chapter deals with the background of the study. The second chapter covers the objective and the methodology of the study and elaborates on the background of the study by providing a brief review of the construction industry with special focus on Mumbai, the conditions of its workers, and their families, and earlier researches done on the subject. The third chapter presents a socio-economic profile of the respondents based on the data analysis of the interviews, and also presents the organizational status of the workers, their training needs and the conditions at the workplace. The last and final chapter presents a summary of the findings, leading to some conclusions for the follow up activity envisaged in the project. The chapter also presents some case-studies of NGOs that have been successful in making a difference in the lives of construction workers with regard to their needs, and can serve as models for replication. Some recommendations are put forward for the urban planners and policy makers of the city administration.

Chapter 2. Profile of the Indian Construction Industry, Objectives of the Study and Methodology followed. 2. a) The Indian Construction Industry Indian construction industry is, as stated earlier, a highly heterogeneous one covering many types of construction like transport including roads and highways development, building of multipurpose dams, industrial structures, and construction of skyscrapers and big buildings for homes, offices, warehouses. etc. Thus products of construction are vital for the development of business, industries and other socioeconomic institutions. The construction sector in India evolved slowly on the patterns observed in other countries. It needed large investments that were not available with the private sector. As a result public sector enterprises including companies and departmental enterprises were set up in addition to the separate departments in the governments at the centre and at the state levels. These included the National Industrial Development Corporation (NIDC), the Rail India Technical and Engineering Services (RITES), Engineers India Ltd (EIL) and special legal entities for the construction for big dams and highways. Later Private sector firms like the Hindustan Construction Company (HCC), M.N.Dastur & Co., the Larson & Toubro Ltd (L&T), Reliance Infrastructure etc. also entered the field. It is estimated that the construction sector in India contributes about 5% to the GDP and employees about 30 million employees. It also contributes significantly for the capital formation in the country. The construction industry has about 200 major firms, over one lakh registered contractors, and thousands of petty contractors. In 2004-05, the industry had a turnover Rs. 42885/- crores. This is an underestimation because there are many construction activities including civil repairs , private housing construction in remote places etc.which may not have been properly accounted. In Indias XIth Five Year Plan (2007-12), the public sector outlay for items involving construction items ;like irrigation and flood control; industry and minerals; transport and communications amounts to over Rs.10,00,000/- crores! With Indian economy exhibiting a high growth rate of 8-9% and per capita GDP also rising (currently $3339 in PPP terms), the scope for construction industry has been growing by leaps and bounds. The Planning Commission, Government of India and the construction industry have set up the Construction Industry Development Council (CIDC) to support and promote the construction industry. It is estimated that over $300 billion investment may be needed during the XIth Plan in the various infrastructure construction projects alone. 6

2. b)Employment in the Industry

Currently, the informal sector accounts for 30%-45% of NDP and 55%-65% of employment in India. At the same time, unemployment is a serious concern, especially for youth: in 2001, unemployment in Greater Mumbai was 11.5% overall, but 28% for those aged 11-24.Key Labour Absorption Industries have been identified as Retail and Construction in Mumbai. 1
Potential contribution of key industries to GDP -a case of Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR)

The contribution of the construction sector in the GDP of India has been growing in the past two decades. Some data for the period 1994-2004 is given below as an illustration.
Break-up of secondary sector in MMRs GDP (1993-94 to 2003-04)

Urban Institute (USA), on MMRDA- Report on Prospects For Economic Growth And Workforce Development In The Mumbai Metropolitan Region India Urban Initiatives, 2007

The industry, till recently highly labour intensive, was helping in dealing with the national problem of unemployment. However, now technological improvements and innovations have begun to transform this industry into a high tech one, even in housing sector, suited to build skyscrapers and towers. This has made the industry quite profit oriented, yet with high risk and with poor prospects for the labour, especially to the unskilled, and semi skilled workers in the industry. 2.c) Conditions of labour in the construction industry The conditions of labour in the construction industry, both at the work place and at the living place, can make anyone sad. The workers face enormous problems. These are discussed below. Working and living conditions of construction labour are, to say the least, deplorable. All the studies and surveys on construction labour highlight their poor plight. These problems are common to both Naka Market workers and other construction workers. The only major difference is that the Naka workers are recruited from the Naka markets and have to face problems associated with this market. The main problems of construction workers are narrated below. Lack of organization has been a serious problem for these workers. Apart from the nature of the construction site in terms of its time span and locations, poverty, lack of literacy and lack of awareness about their rights and potentialities contribute to their inability to organize themselves. The employers or contractors too prefer non-uionized labour because it helps them in having control over them as per their profit motives. The intermittent nature of work, the construction projects being scattered at different places, and the projects being of a changing nature making labour to move from project to project and the fear of job insecurity makes workers very vulnerable, leading to workers becoming submissive and passive. This leads to their exploitation and perpetuation of the poor working conditions. Another aspect of the sufferings of the construction workers is the prevalence of occupational diseases. Women and children suffer from a number of diseases like asthma, bronchitis, skin diseases, diseases of reproductive system like hydroceles and gynaecological problems. These are said to prevail on a large scale in Andheri, Kurla, Chembur, Bandra, Khar, Haji ali, Worli, and Byculla areas of Mumbai. Such diseases also affect the nearby residing population. It is reported that over one million mumbaikars are suffering from such diseases. Construction workers suffer more because if they fall sick and remain absent, they lose wages with chances of losing job itself. From the point of view of equity this is a sad state of affairs. Intermittent sickness, poor nutrition, and continuous work also lead to premature ageing and low life expectancy. 8

A serious problem is that of safety and accident prevention. This becomes more severe when workers have to work at high levels in skyscrapers as well as carrying materials on staircases and scaffoldings. While safety devices are available both employers and workers do not observe the necessary precautions. This often results in accidents. Though these workers are covered under the Workmen Compensation Act 1923, the workers are usually managed by the management with a lower compensation. Similarly wages too, compared to the high risk in working in tall buildings, are quite low. A major problem is that of migrant workers who are new to the environment suffer several hardships like lack of knowledge of local languages, and absence of social networks that can help them. Lack of an adequate institutional framework for these workers deprives them of the better aspects of life like proper schooling for the children, nutrition, medi-care facilities, for the workers and their families including children making life isolated and deprived in many aspects of good life. BOX 1: Mumbai Mobile Crches - MMC The MMC is a corporate body registered under S-25 of the Indian Companies Act 1956 with the objective of serving the needs of children on construction sites. It undertakes extensive activities on a large scale to develop the children of construction workers who, left to themselves are poor, uneducated and vulnerable. . Their main flagship activity is to cater to the educational needs of children right from the day they are born. It runs crches for children of the 0-3 year age group, Balwadis for children belonging to the age group of 3-5 years, and school for children of the age group of 6 years and above. The organization helps its school children to move to mainstream education by helping the children to enroll in nearby municipal schools. Children from all parts of the country take advantage of its schemes. The children are also given the enjoyment of field trips and educational outings. It brings children, parents, and teachers together on a common platform. It also trains women belonging to the families of construction workers to become teachers. It also attends to the needs of preventive health and nutrition of the children who normally have little access to these services. The MMC draws on extensive sources for fund raising and resource mobilization. It contacts builders, government bodies, academic institutions, industrialists and other civil society organizations to get donations in cash and kind. Reputed industrial house support its activities. It also has significant interactions with similar organizations and networks with them extensively through programmes meant for the children its schools. This may be one of the very few organizations that take special interest in the development of the organization also. Apart form taking help from companies like the TCS for introducing information technology in its organization for its staff, it also provides opportunities to its staff, including women form the families of construction families working as teachers, to develop themselves through links with various educational programmes like seminars, workshops etc. It runs over 30m centers in the Mumbai region where childrens educational needs are effectively attended to. There is a need for more such organizations to stimulate the development of poor children all over India. 9

2.d) Measures for protecting the rights of Construction Workers Several measures are being taken to improve and help the conditions of construction workers. But there are no special efforts to cover the Naka market construction workers though their plight is somewhat different than the other construction workers. The construction workers are covered by mainly four legislations. These are:a) Contract Labour (Regulation & Abolition) Act 1970. b) The Interstate Migrant Labour (Regulation of employment and Conditions of Service) Act 1973. c) Building and Construction Workers (Regulations of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act 1996, and, d) The Building and Other construction Workers Welfare Cess Ordinance 1996. Government of Maharashtra has been pursuing the system of tripartite welfare board with the objective of providing the construction workers benefits like Provident Fund, health insurance, pension, gratuity and other benefits. The Government has started collecting a cess of 1% of the cost of construction (excluding land cost) from the builders from July 2010. The Governments target is to collect Rs. 1000/- crores per annum. The employers have to provide safety apparatus, drinking water, crches wherever applicable, toilet, first aid and canteen facilities. Workers in 18-60 years age group who worked for a minimum of 90 days during the past twelve months can register with the board. By April 2011, over 18000 applications for registration had been received. he Planning Commission & Govt. of India jointly with the construction industry has set up the Construction Industry Development Council (CIDC) which has started functioning from August 1996. Its important activities include standardizing contract terms in domestic building industry, which helps in promoting contract activities without much variations in contract rates. It also helps in promoting skills and employment of high level engineers and technicians. Further it also promotes arbitration and dispute redressal in the construction industry. The CIDC also take up the financial issues of the industry. It was effective in its working to the status of industry for the construction activity.

Apart from the efforts of government, the NGOs also attempt to help the construction workers families. For example the Mumbai Mobile Creches (see Box 1) provides educational and development facilities for the children of construction workers. Nirman is another important institution which has been in the field for a long time, helping construction workers in a variety of ways including providing welfare facilities, and forming unions to protect construction workers from exploitation.\\However, as 10

stated earlier, there is no organization or agency which works exclusively for Naka workers. Since these workers come to the market in the morning and go away around 9.30 a.m. it has been difficult to contact them, mobilize them and organize them into unions. They do not have a proper place, they keep standing looking out for work, and there is no security of job or fixed tenure or wages comparable to those of regular construction workers. The Naka workers do not get the facilities and opportunities available to regular construction workers. All these facts highlight to the need for bestowing special attention to these Naka workers which the present study is aiming at.

Box.2: Role of NICMAR Discussions with Dr.M.G.Korgaonkar National Institute of Construction Management and Research (NICMAR) is a unique institution in the field of construction industry- its management and development. Dr.Mangesh G Korgaonkar, Director General, NICMAR highlighted its contribution and discussed frankly his opinion on the plight of construction workers, including the Naka workers. He pointed out that NICMAR is now an institution at the post graduate level training engineering and architecture graduates in general management, construction management, real estate management, infrastructure finance, forex management and quality engineering. The trainees are absorbed in good jobs after training through the campus interviews. The NICMAR also effectively utilizes the distance education mode to offer courses like executive education and performance research. Dr.Koregaonkar pointed out that construction offers vast scope for employment, but there is no institution with adequate training inputs. He felt good quality vocational training should be arranged. All concerned stakeholders should come together. According to him governments role is very important in providing quality vocational training. But unfortunately government appears to be not much interested. The vocational institutions have not been able to ensure an adequate supply of skilled manpower for the construction industry. Private sector business organizations like the L&T, Hawre, HCC and ACC have special arrangement for training workmen in different trade skills. But there cannot be a substitute for governments role. He also pointed out that it is difficult to get experienced personnel. And even if workers are trained, they leave if they get better opportunities. A very significant aspect pointed out by Dr.Korgaonkar was the emerging changes in the construction technology in moving materials, mixing concrete cement, bending and cutting steel rods, construction engineering, prefabricated construction structures etc. All such changes need a new set of institutions that can impart updated skills to workers. No more is construction technology labour intensive. He quoted Dr.Fixit as an example which deals with repairs and renovations effectively. The training institutions must be exposed to the changes abroad in advanced countries to observe and absorb the modern AC system, electrical system, fire-fighting systems, high rise buildings and maintenance systems. This is the challenge before the industry. Government support is also crucial in this area. Dr.Korgaonkar conceded that the plight of the construction labour deserves to be improved. He explained that construction is 11not a product like in manufacturing but here one has to deal with projects that are time bound contracts. This has made workers vulnerable without any job security. Naka workers suffer all the more. There is also corruption and exploitation. Dr. Korgaonkar strongly felt for the need of a realty regulator

3.Objectives and Methodology 3.a)Objectives It has been noted earlier that Naka workers need institutional support. It is proposed to consider an establishment on institution like workers service centre. The overall objective of the study is to understand the basis for developing the capacity of vulnerable groups like Naka Workers in construction sector, so that they effectively access and enjoy the basic labour rights and privileges in Indias labor markets. The specific objectives will be: To understand the problems and prospects of the construction sector in the context of employment. To understand the skill requirements of the sectors to equip workers for upgrading their employability potential as the sectors performance improves. To understand the living conditions of the labour force in the sector, their lifestyles, needs and aspirations and attitudes towards forming organisations. To arrive at possible opportunities to the labour force in the sectors for capacity building and for improving their employment potential, their quality of life, and To understand the possibilities of encouraging them for forming their organisations for addressing to the common goals of attaining better and secured living.

3. b) Methology: This is an action research project. It will have different methods as needed and suitable. The project has four parts/components. The first part involves research activity. This will be a survey of Naka workers in Navi Mumbai. A total of201Naka workers were selected randomly at four naka markets and surveyed to obtain firsthand knowledge of these workers living and working conditions. Secondly existing institutions serving the needs of the Naka workers were surveyed, to know the activities undertaken by these institutions for the improvement and betterment of Naka workers. Interviews with management of selected enterprises were also carried out to gather information on skill requirements of the enterprises and their recruitment practices in the light of globalization and rapid global changes. The first part leads to the second. In this part, the findings of the study referred in the first part, the plight of the Naka workers, and the needs of the construction workers 12

are considered and an appropriate institution would be established. The setting up of the institution will take place over a period of six to nine months. There will be a coordinating center if more such centers are established. In the third phase attention will be paid to develop and implement capacity building porgrammes to empower the senior staff of the visualized service institutions to enable them to function innovatively and effectively. The contents of the programmes will be carefully planned in consultation between AILS, MKI, employers/builders, trade unions, worker representatives and the various vocational training institutions. At the minimum the programme will cover areas like sustainable enterprise development, the process of social dialogue and the practice of collective bargaining to equip worker/union leaders and representatives and specifically cover the topics of basic Indian business and labour economics; methods of data analysis, basic financial accounting including annual financial statements, and terminologies used in the various reports of the company and its management. Special efforts will be made to develop among them the skills analysis of financial statements especially the Profit & Loss statements. Finally, management and decision making will be taught to them through a management simulation programme called BizSim. Over a period of time the visualized service institutions are expected to develop themselves and become independent so as to manage themselves with their own efforts including raising of the necessary funds. At this stage all outside assistance will be stopped and the service institutions will be expected to be self-sustaining and then this action research project will end.

3. c) Research Partners
The Ambekar Institute for Labour Studies, situated at Parel, Mumbai, is an autonomous research and training institute working in the field of labour since 1976. In thjis study the Institute sought the cooperation of Centre for Development, Education and Research (CDEAR), located at New Panvel, which is operating a service centre in labour community that provides vocational training and employment opportunities for youth and women. This centre has been providing training for computer operations and some other vocational training and helping the beneficiaries with opportunities for employment. As a part of this initiative, the AILS has a team of investigators who collected data for this study by conducting interviews in the target areas. The AILS was also provided cooperation by Adhhar Kendra set up by Nirman located at Vashi for collecting the data.


Chapter 3
Conditions of Naka Market Workers In Navi Mumbai This section takes up the analysis of the data collected in the survey of naka labour market in construction industry. Table 1. Residence of the Respondents Name of Residence Frequency Percent Belapur 45 22.4 Vashi 49 24.9 Kharghar 1 .5 Kopar Khairane Rabale Turbhe Tilak Nagar Shirongaon Pawanagaon Diwale Ghansoli Nerul Airoli Atnur Kalyan Mankhurd Kurla Mhape Kalwa Total 43 2 10 1 1 1 1 9 2 29 1 1 1 1 2 1 201 21.4 1.0 5.0 .5 .5 .5 .5 4.5 1.0 14.4 .5 .5 .5 .5 1.0 .5 100.0

There are nineteen residential pockets in the Navi Mumbai. But most of the Nka workers reside in a few of them. The above table reveals that over 80% of the sample respondents reside in Vashi, Belapur, Koperkairne and Airoli areas. Table-1.It was felt that these are the pockets where one can think of initiating the visualized service institutions for the Naka workers and their families. Table 2. Gender Gender Male Female Total Frequency Percent 191 95.0 10 5.0 201 100.0 The construction labour in naka is said to consist of predominantly male workers. This fact is corroborated here. An overwhelming 95% of the workers are males. Table No,. 2. 14


Table 3. Marital Status Marital Status Frequency Percent No Response 2 1.0 Married 173 86.5 Unmarried 25 12.5 Widow 1 0.5 Total 201 100.0 Among the respondents, a majority (86.5%) were married. Only 12.5% were unmarried. A solitary respondent was a widow. It is difficult to account with any special reason why large section are married. ( Table 3). Fig. 1. Respondents Native State
120 100 80 60 40 20 0 No Mahara Karnata Respons shtra k e 5 2,5 118 58,7 33 16,4 Andhra Tami Madhya Wesr Rajstha Pradesh lNadu Pradesh Bengal n 10 5 1 0,5 1 0,5 3 1,5 18 9

U.P 11 5,5

Bihar 1 0,5

Frequency Percent

As can be expected, among the respondents, a large majority (58.7%) are natives of Maharashtra. Next group was from Karnataka (16.4%). It is not a surprise since floor tiles fixing is a speciality of Rajasthani workers, the next largest group is from Rajasthan (9.0%). The neighboring state of Andhra Pradesh accounted for only 5%. (fig. 1) Table 4. Name of the Naka As stated in the explanation for Table Name of Naka Frequency Percent 1, in the above Table too, Vashi, Belapur 48 23.9 Belapur, Koperkairne and Airoli have Vashi 59 29.4 larger number of workers (83%). These Kopar Khairane 52 25.9 workers can be considered to be Turbhe 8 4.0 fortunate to have their residence near to Airoli 31 15.4 their place of work. (Table 4). Nerul 2 1.0 Total 201 100.0 16

Table 5. Total no. of Years Employed No of years Frequency Percent (Actual) No Response 5 2.5 1 6 3.0 2 9 4.5 3 2 1.0 4 4 2.0 5 17 8.5 6 8 4.0 7 5 2.5 8 5 2.5 9 4 2.0 10 38 18.9 11 2 1.0 12 13 6.5 13 4 2.0 14 4 2.0 15 30 14.9 16 5 2.5 17 3 1.5 18 4 2.0 19 2 1.0 20 17 8.5 22 3 1.5 24 1 .5 25 4 2.0 28 2 1.0 34 1 .5 35 2 1.0 36 1 .5 Total 201 100.0

More than half the workers have given their responses regarding employment in round figures of 5, 10, 15, 20 years. Largest section (38) among them stated they were employed for ten years. Next group of 30 stated that they were employed for 15 years. (Table 5) Table 6. Nature of work Nature of work N.R. Skilled Semiskilled Unskilled Frequency 30 44 70 56 Percent 14.9 20.9 34.8 28.0




As is clear from the above table, skilled workers (21%) were a significant but smaller section of workers. Semi skilled and unskilled workers (together 126) were over 60% of the sample respondents. It should be noted that about 15% of the workers could not be classified indicating the diverse nature of the construction work. (Table 6).


Table 7. Category of Labour getting jobs very often Category Frequency Percent Painter 56 28.5 Kadia 30 15.0 Bigari 75 37.5 Mistry 22 11.0 Mason 59 30.4 Carpenter 12 6.0 Plumber 58 29.0 Fitter 13 6.5 Electrician 5 2.5 The responses of the workers show that significant section of workers is singleskilled. Also those who are skilled like Painters, Bigaris, Masons, and Plumbers, get jobs easily and more often. ( Table 7). Table 8. Type of trade of workers available at Naka Category Frequency Percent Painter 137 68.7 Kadia 75 37.4 Bigari 98 48.5 Mistry 61 31.4 Mason 99 49.4 Carpenter 72 35.8 Plumber 124 61.8 Electrician 69 34.4 The table (No. 8) reveals that the categories of workers stated to get jobs easily and frequently. i.e. Painters, Bigaris, Masons and Plumbers, are also available in plenty and unfortunately a significant number of them do not get jobs. (Table 8). Table 9. Job source Source Frequency Percent N.R. 45 22.4 Self attempt 28 13.9 Friend 9 4.5 Contractor 110 55.0 Contractor + 4 2.0 friends Builder 5 2.5 Total 201 100.0 It can be seen from the above table that more than half of the workers (55%) get their jobs through contractors. About 14% of the workers get jobs by their own efforts and 18

attempts. What was surprising was that 45 respondents (22.4%) did not respond indicating that they may be getting Jobs through a variety of sources but did not wish to share the information. Five workers have stated that they got jobs directly from the builder, which is interesting. (Table 9). Table 10. Present Occupation of Respondents Occupation Frequency Percent N.R. 12 6.0 Bigari 27 13.4 Painter 67 33.3 Kadia 5 2.5 Eletrician 2 1.0 Plumber 11 5.5 Carpenter 3 1.5 Mason 30 14.9 Fitter 1 .5 House keeping 2 1.0 Mistry 36 17.9 Grinder 1 .5 Civil contractor 2 1.0 Petty contractor 1 .5 Total 201 100.0 The above table reveals that majority of the jobs were shared by Painters (67), Mistry (36), Masons (30) and Bigaaris (27) and Plumbers(11) accounting together for over 85% of the jobs. These trades also indicate high employment potential compared to the trades of electrician, fitter, grinder etc. (Table 10) Table 11. Periodicity of payment Answer Frequency Percent N.R. 7 3.5 Daily 162 80.6 Weekly 5 2.5 Monthly 3 1.5 Contract basis 4 2.0 Other 5 2.5 Daily + contract 13 6.5 Daily +weekly 2 1.0 Total 201 100.0


It is clear from the table that an majority of over 80% received their wages on a daily basis and very few were paid on monthly or even weekly basis. This indicates the vulnerability and insecurity of the jobs in the construction sector. (Table 11). Fig. 2. Monthly Income (in Rs.)
70 60 50 40 30 20 10 0 N.R. Frequency Percent 9 4,5



2 1

9 4,5

24 11,9

42 20,9

5001- 7001- 10,000 7000 10,000 above

62 30,8 49 24,4 4 2


Wages in Rs.

Majority of the workers (111) constituting (55.2%) received monthly income in the range of Rs. 5001-10,000. A significant section of workers (66) received income in the range of Rs.3001-5000. Only 4 workers received income more than Rs.10, 000 per month. Obviously those who are skilled received higher income but the number of such workers is very less. (Fig. 2). The average wage comes to about Rs. 5,890/- per month. Table 12. Monthly Overtime OT in Rs. Frequency No OT / N.R. 189 1001-2000 7 2001-3000 3 3001-4000 2 Total 201

Percent 94.0 3.5 1.5 1.0 100.0

As regards overtime it was clear that only a small proportion of the workers get over time payment (5%) It appears that even if workers worked for more time, the very practice of paying overtime was not there. (Table 12.)


Table 13. Total No. of Family Members Actual Members Frequency Percent N.R. 7 3.5 1 25 12.4 2 47 23.4 3 16 8.0 4 34 16.9 5 34 16.9 6 23 11.4 7 3 1.5 8 6 3.0 9 3 1.5 10 1 .5 13 1 .5 14 1 .5 Total 201 100.0 The above table reveals that workers having 1 to 4 members in their family constituted 60.7% of the total workers. Those having family members of 5-6 constituted 28.3%. Workers having family members seven or more constitute only 7.5%. The average size of the family is 3.8 persons.(Table 13). It was clear that smaller families were more which is a healthy sign. Table 14. Other Earning Members in the family Actual Members Frequency Percent No /N.R. 149 74.0 1 28 14.0 2 16 8.0 3 8 4.0 Total 201 100.0 It can be seen from the table that a large majority (74%) have either stated that there is no other earning member in the family or have not responded. This is in keeping with the trend of not correctly quoting income sources or underestimating them. Among the rest stating that there are other earning members, there were 8 workers who stated that there were 3 earning members in the family. Overall it was clear that Naka workers in general were the sole earning members in their family. (Table 14)


Table 15. Do you get Minimum Wage? Answer Frequency Percent No 98 48.8 Yes 103 51.2 Total 201 100.0 Generally workers must be aware about the minimum wages that they should get it. But in the sample almost half of the workers did not know what is minimum wage. It points out to the need to make workers aware of what they are entitled to.( Table 15) The present minimum wage declared by the State government is Rs. 6754 for unskilled workers, Rs. 6854/- for semi skilled workers and Rs. 6954 for skill workers which is inclusive of special allowance. Fig. 2 above indicates that only about half of the sampled workers are getting minimum wages. Table 16. Wages are decided on Wage Basis Frequency Percent N.R. 6 3.0 Daily wages rate 185 92.0 Contract rate 7 3.5 basis Daily + contract 3 1.5 basis Total 201 100.0

A very large number (185) constituting over 90% of the workers have their wages decided on a daily rate which reflects their inferior position in the bargaining which compels them to accept daily wages. (Table 16).

Table 17. Who decided the Wages? Answer Frequency Percent N.R. 48 23.9 Contractor 96 47.8 Worker 32 15.9 Contractor + 9 4.5 worker Owner + Contractor 16 8.0 +Builder Total 201 100.0

As regards the determination of wages, 96 workers (47.8%) have their wages decided by their contractor. It is surprising that 32 workers constituting about 16% have stated that they decide their wages. But it is not surprising to observe 48 workers (23.9%) not giving any response as they may have just accepted the wages offered since they may not be having adequate knowledge of wage determination. (Table 17).


Table 18. Level awareness of Central / state Govt. -Social Safety Scheme Answer Frequency Percent No idea 193 96.0 Know Social Securities/PF/ES 5 2.5 IC Know the Janshree Bima 2 1.0 Yojana Total 201 100.0 It is not surprising that the vast majority (96%) have stated that they are not aware of or getting any benefit of any government scheme operating for their benefit. It is necessary that they must be made aware of the scheme. Thus it points out to the responsibility of unions, government and employers towards the workers. (Table 18) Table 19. Did the respondent get Benefit of Schemes? Answer Frequency Percent No 199 99.0 Yes 2 1.0 Total 201 100.0 It is unfortunately true that workers in general do not know the various scheme that exist and as stated in the earlier table this tripartite responsibility must effectively discharged so that workers lot can be improved. (Table 19) Table 20. Naka a Convenient Place? Answer Frequency Percent No 113 56.0 Yes 88 44.0 Total 201 100.0 The above responses show that workers are divided on the issue of their Naka place. Majority are not satisfied with their place or location. But may among those who say yes may not be fully aware of the fact that some basic conveniences like drinking water facility are necessary. (Table 20) Table 21. Drinking Water As is clear over 90% of the workers are not Answer Frequency Percent satisfied with the quality of the drinking No 184 91.5 water. This is also a health question. It is Yes 17 8.5 necessary to ensure that workers get pure Total 201 100.0 drinking water. (Table 21). 23

Table 22. Public Toilet

The responses of the workers about the availability of public toilet are revealing. Overwhelming workers felt that public toilet facilities are very poor and can affect their health and smooth functioning. (Table 22) Table 23. Harassment from authorities Answer Frequency Percent No 124 61.7 Yes 77 38.3 Total 201 100.0

Answer No Yes Total

Frequency Percent 176 87.5 25 12.5 201 100.0

Workers in Naka Market often face harassment from public officials like the Municipal authorities or police. Surprisingly a large majority (61.7%) have said that there was no harassment from these officials. This may be perhaps because these workers meet in the morning before busy hours of the Naka and public officials also do not visit the place at those early hours. However, it should be noted that a significant section (38.3%) of workers have said that they face harassment from authorities. (Table 23) Table 24. Regular work Answer Frequency Percent No 195 97.0 Yes 6 3.0 Total 201 100.0

It is very important to note that workers in the Naka Market do not get regular self-employment. In rainy season they remain jobless or have to accept lower wages as the demand is less in this season. Similarly they are not recruited for long term; as a result they get only intermittent employment. In the table an overwhelming section of workers (97%) have highlighted these aspects. (Table 24) 24

Table 25. Activities when there is no work Answer Frequency Nothing 22 Rest 156 Wandering /Chatting 12 Reading at Library 1 Watching TV/Movies 3 Drinking /Gambling 4 Doing another work 3 Total 201 Percent 10.9 77.6 6.0 .5 1.5 2.0 .5 100.0

It is sad to note the responses of workers in the table-25. 156 workers have stated that they take rest when there is no work. If we add the responses of workers (22) who have said they do nothing, it becomes clear that 88.5% remain idle. If the responses of 12 workers who said they spend time wandering or chatting, then a whopping 94-5% remain idle which is a social waste and grinding poverty for the workers. Only one worker said that he spent time in Library, but against these 4 workers said that they spend the time on drinking and gambling! Only 3 workers have said that they do another work. How to enable other workers also to get other jobs is the main question to be tackled. (Table 25) Table 26. No. of Days of Work available It can be seen from the table ( Table 26) No. of days Frequency Percent that majority of the workers(107 workers-about N.R. 2 1.0 54%) could get employment for 20-25 days in 10-15 21 10.5 a month which is of course a satisfactory state. 15-20 59 29.5 But 80 workers (40%) could get employment 20-25 107 54.4 only from10-20 days which is a highly 25-30 12 6.0 unsatisfactory state of affairs. These workers Total 201 100.0 need social help. Only 12 workers got employment for 25-30 days in a month. Status of Unionization Table 27. Union at Workplace Answer Frequency Percent No 103 51.5 Yes 98 48.5 Total 201 100.0

It is observed that unionization rate among informal sector workers normally very weak. Surprisingly the above table (Table 27) reveals that almost half of the workers are unionized. But marginally the 25

non-unionized workers are more, highlighting the need to mobilize the non-unionized workers. The reasons for the high rate of unionization as reported was further investigated and it was found that these workers have formed their own labour cooperative societies with the initiative from NIRMAN.

1. NIRMAN Initiative ( Box 3)

It was with the intention of responding to the needs of construction labourers and their families in Mumbai and neighbouring Navi Mumbai that Nirmala Niketan College of Social Work established a 'migrant workers project' in 1986. Later christened 'Nirman', it was registered as an NGO and now aims to bring measurable changes in the quality of life of the city's migrant workers. Initially, Nirman, in collaboration with the City and Industrial Development Corporation of Maharashtra (CIDCO), conducted a study of 500 construction workers in Navi Mumbai to understand their socio-economic background and the occupational hazards they face. Based on the study, Nirman formalised its objectives and identified the major areas of intervention education, training, networking and research.Nirman has thus been able to respond to the specific needs and problems of this section of society and plan its strategies and programmes accordingly. It has also adopted the social advocacy model aimed at bringing in structural changes at the policy level, so that the benefits will reach a larger number of construction workers. Right from welfare work to union issues and advocating construction workers rights at both micro and macro levels, Nirman has been diligent in its endeavours. The Nirman Mazdoor Sanghatana, a non-political organisation initiated in 1990, is an offshoot of Nirman's efforts. This organisation promotes the democratic rights of construction workers and advocates an equitable distribution of resources . Nirman has also organised skill upgradation programmes in welding, plumbing and masonry in collaboration with Jan Shikshan Sansthan at five different construction sites. These programmes have reached out to about 20,000 men and women construction workers. Nirman's interventions with women workers in the areas of health, education and savings have also been very effective. In addition, the organisation regularly organises recreational and cultural activities that help to create a close bonding and lighten the burdens of the daily grind. Apart from the NGO's success in setting up the crches / balwadis for the children of the workers, Nirman runs six balwadis for nearly 200 children at different sites. Its efforts in advocating the health rights of the workers in Navi Mumbai by networking with CIDCO, the Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation, builders and contractors are commendable. Nirman runs its healthcare programmes at the various sites and nakas (street corners) where construction workers normally congregate, and at its recently established Workers Development Centre at the CIDCO Community Centre in Nerul, Navi Mumbai. Along with training and skill upgradation programmes, it focuses on HIV /AIDS counselling and awareness programmes. Nirman also works at various nakas and sites in Mumbai, and has extended its work with the Tamil migrants in Dharavi where the focus is on HIV. In collaboration with the Sir Dorabji Tata Trust and Concern India Foundation, Nirman has tried to set up cooperatives of the naka workers. It has also set up a sort of library of tools for one such workers' co-operative society, Nirmiti Bandhkam Seva Society. These tools may be used by the members of the society for their personal use or may also be given on hire to other workers. These tool banks have proved to be so popular that they are now being replicated elsewhere too.


Table 28. Member of Union Answer Frequency Percent No./ N.A / N.R. 149 74.1 Yes 52 25.9 Total 201 100.0

The above table gives responses as to whether they are members of the union. Surprisingly only 52 said they are members. The others include those who are not members or do not wish to respond. Also often workers join the union when there is need and keep away at other times. So it is difficult to comment on their membership. (Table 28) Table 29. If No-Reasons Reasons Frequency Percent No./ N.A / N.R. 149 74.1 Money Problem 3 1.5 No time 5 2.5 No interest 16 8.0 Less faith on 29 14.5 union /Leader Nobody 13 6.5 contacted us The workers appeared to be reluctant in answering t as to why they have not joined the union. 149 workers constituting over 74% of the total did not respond. Significant section (29 workers, 14.5% of total workers) of workers stated that they had no faith in the union/its leader. It indicates the need to educate the workers and create the awareness of the need of a union. (Table 29) Table 30. Approach in cases of difficulties? The respondents were not unanimous Answer Frequency Percent on who they approached in case of Not approached 49 24.4 difficulties. The largest section (85 workers) Co-Workers 25 12.5 stated that they themselves struggled. The Self Struggle 85 42.3 next larger section (49 workers) said that Contractor 17 8.5 they did not approach anybody perhaps Union because there was no need. The next section 20 10.0 Authorities (25 workers) stated that they approached Local leader 3 1.5 their co-workers and took their help. 20 Contractor or workers took the help of unions. The 3 1.5 police contractor was approached by 17 workers Worker + Police 5 2.5 for help. Few others (5 or less) approached Nirman 3 1.5 police or NGO Nirman or Naka president Naka President 2 1.0 in case of difficulty.(Table 30) 27

Table 31. Difficulties/Issues? Issues Frequency Percent No Job Security 37 18.5 Threaten By Native People 52 25.7 No Payment/Irregular 77 38.3 No Increment 13 6.5 No regular work 27 13.5 No Facilities 14 7.0 No convenient Timing 9 4.5 Harassment on work 8 4.0 Accident claims 11 5.5 Cheating by contractor 34 17.0 The table above shows that workers had several problems but these varied in intensity. Many faced multiple issues. 77 respondents were concerned because they did not receive payments regularly on time. Next larger group (52 workers) felt threatened by the local people. Next group (37 workers) felt vulnerable due to job insecurity. 34 workers felt cheated by the contractor.27 workers had to face the issue of no-regularwork. Other issues faced by workers (less than 15) were the absence of increments, no facilities, dealing with accident claims and harassment at work. ( Table 31)

Table 32. System for grievances handling Answer Frequency Percent No / N.R. / N.A. Through workers Contractor /Builder Police station Through Union Court Mutually Friends / Relatives Dharana / Morcha Through Nirrman 157 23 9 6 12 3 4 3 9 2 78.5 11.4 4.5 3.0 6.0 1.5 2.0 1.5 4.5 1.0

Most of the workers seemed to have no grievances as a large majority (78.5%) either did not respond or said they did not have any grievances. Of the remaining 23 (11.4%) workers said they handled grievances through co-workers. Next 12 (6%) stated that they approach the union. Other small groups relied on contractors, builders, friends, relatives, etc. It is obvious that the workers did not have any clear mechanism to settle their grievances. (Table 32)


Table 33. Mechanism for Settlement of disputes Answer No /N.R. / N.A. Workers group Workers + contract. Workers society Contractor / Builder Frequency Percent 153 35 10 2 8 76.1 17.5 5.0 1.0 4.0

Majority (153 workers, 76.1%) as seen from the above table (Table 33) had no responses or had not dealt with settlement mechanism in cases of grievances. Of the remaining, 35 (17.5%) relied on worker-groups, and 10 on workers and contractor. Table 34. Training Obtained by Respondent Answer Frequency Percent No. / N.R. Yes 141 60 70.5 29.5

Total 201 100.0 As expected a large majority (141 workers, 70.5%) did not have any training or did not respond. But a significant section of workers (60 workers, 29-5%) received training which deserves high appreciation. Facility or access to training is very necessary for Naka workers to improve their productivity and employability. (Table 34) Table 35. If Yes, Which is the Trade? Answer Frequency Percent N.A. / N.R. Mason Plumber Electrician Painter Technical Total 154 18 9 3 16 1 201 77.0 9.0 4.5 1.5 8.0 .5 100.0

In the earlier table (Table 39) 60 workers stated that they received training. However when asked, training in which trade, only 47 responded. 18 Masons,16 Painters,


9 plumbers, 3 electricians and one technical worker received training. As stated earlier training facility or access is a must for every worker. (Table 35) Fig. 3 If no, which Training respondents want?
1% 3% 2% 12% 26% 2% 1% NR. Mason Plumber Electrician Painter

Carpenter 23% 13% Mistry RCC fitter Chip Making Crane Operator 5% 12%

To the question of which type of training that workers would prefer, 53 workers did not respond while 46, 27, 25, and 23 workers preferred training as painter, Mason, Plumber, Mistry respectively. 10 workers preferred training as electrician. Other small groups (5 or less) preferred training various other fields. (Fig. 4) Table 36. Duration of Training Answer Frequency Percent

On duration of training, a significant section (44 workers) did not respond. But N.A. 44 22.0 almost all remaining responses (75% of Short term 151 75.0 total) were that training should be of short Long term 4 2.0 duration, as workers cant afford to lose time when they are daily rated. Just 4 Only 2 1.0 respondents preferred long term training. It Certification must note that remaining two preferred only Total 201 100.0 certification, which shows their confidence in their skills. There may many who know jobs and have skills but no certification. Such people can benefit from the scheme of certification of courses. (Table 36). 30

Table 37. Does Respondent afford fee? The responses to the question whether Answer Frequency Percent they can afford to pay the fees, elicited a N.A. / N.R. 76 37.8 positive answer from majority of the Yes 124 61.7 respondents (124 workers, 61.7%). A significant Total 201 100.0 section (76 workers, 37.8% did not respond or felt there is no need for response. (Table 37) Table 38. Respondent can spare time Answer No / N.R. 1hrs 2hrs 3hrs Total Frequency 43 50 104 3 201 Percent 21.5 25.0 52.0 1.5 100.0 The workers were uncertain about training at work place. A large majority (136 workers, 68%) did not respond. But a significant section (65 workers) was agreeable for training at the workplace. To the question whether they can spare enough time for training, majority (104 workers, 52%) said they would spare two hours daily. Another significant section (50 workers, 25%) said they can spare one hour. 43 workers (21.5%) did not respond. (Table 38)

Table 39. Training at Workplace Answer No / N.R. Yes Total Frequency 136 65 201 Percent 68.0 32.0 100.0

Table 40. If yes, Describe Answer Frequency N.A. / N.R. Mason Plumbing Painter Carpenter Organized by NIRMAN By Skilled /Senior Workers Organized by Contractor Total 166 5 3 1 1 9

Percent 82.6 2.5 1.5 .5 .5 4.5

To the question as to who all preferred training at workplace, an overwhelming majority (166 workers, 82.6%) did not respond or were indifferent. (Table 40)

4 11 201

2.0 5.5 100.0 31

Table 41. Availability of Training facilities /Institutions Answer Frequency Percent No / N.R. Yes Total 169 32 201 84.1 16.0 100.0

The respondents were not sure about availability of training facilities, as indicated by the non-response from 169 workers (84.1%). About 16% of respondents felt positive about availability. (Table 41) Table 42. Awareness of Health Hazards Answer Frequency Percent No / N.R. Yes Total 51 150 201 25.0 75.0 100.0

On awareness about health hazards, a large majority (150 workers, 75% ) said that they were aware of the health hazards in the construction sector. But a significant section (50 workers, 25%) did not respond. (Table 42) Table 43. Safety Precautions taken at work site Answer Freque Percen ncy t No / N.R. Medical treatment Face covered by clothes Using safety Measure + Medicine Using safety measures Avoiding accidents Total 89 11 14 9 77 1 201 44.3 5.5 7.0 4.5 38.5 .5 100.0

The answers to the question as to how were they taking precautions, a large section (89 workers) did not respond.77 workers said they used the safety measures. Other small groups gave different answers. (Table 43) 32

Chapter 4

Summary and conclusions

The study aimed at examining the present status of Naka Workers in construction industry in Navi Mumbai and understanding the problems faced by them so as to arrive at some solutions, as effective as possible, to overcome these problems. The construction industry is second only to agriculture as far as provision of employment opportunities is concerned. However the quality of employment, in terms of wages, working conditions and social security support, is extremely poor. Workers are less educated, their skills are non-formal, their awareness of their own rights is poor, and many of them being migrants, or not organized and unionized. The conditions of construction workers in Naka Markets are still worse. All these facts were highlighted in a survey undertaken by the present research team that covered Nakas in the Navi Mumbai region, covering over 15 localities in the region. The following issues have come up prominently through the study: 1. The Naka market Workers do not get regular wages because they do not get regular work. Most of them earn less than the minimum wage. Their wages are decided by the agents/contractor who hires them for the builder or developer. 2. Most of the workers possess a single skill. Resultantly they do not get regular work. Having multiple skills would have given them work for more number of days in a month. They desire to obtain multiple skills but they do not have any access to such training institutions/organizations from where they can obtain multiple skills training. 3. Lack of unionization among the Naka Market workers reduces the bargaining capacity when they negotiate with the contractor/agent for their wages. 4. Some Naka workers do not have capacity to buy the equipments/tools necessary to work with the skill they possess. They do not have such credibility with banks and other financial institute to seek the loan for purchasing the costly equipment and hence most of the times they remain out of work. They do not have knowledge about the government other developmental schemes through which they can avail of some financial support. The focus in this study has been on improving the conditions of Naka Market constructions workers. Having studied their conditions and after identifying the key areas for successful intervention in the problems, the present study focused on finding out a 33

practical arrangement that will be multi-purpose and multi-functional and at the same time that will be cost effective, accessible and beneficial to Naka Market workers. With this view the research team met several experts in the field, visited organizations that render different services to the construction workers including Naka workers. The team visited organizations like Aadhar Kendra in Vashi, and NICMAR and Hamal Panchayat in Pune and had fruitful discussions with their executives and observed their working. A number of trade union leaders, NGO activists and academicians were also interviewed to get more insight into the aspects. The arrangement that evolved is that of service institution which can be named as Workers Service Centre (WSC) whichcan deal with the problems of the target group and the challenges in mobilizing training and increasing the employability of the members of the group. The detail of the scheme of WSC that is proposed to be set up has been discussed earlier in the report. This action research project will now embark on establishing the first WSC at a suitable place in Navi Mumbai. After a year or so there will be a review to evaluate the progress of the scheme. In the light of this evaluation, the scheme will be modified, improved and expanded to meet the needs of Naka workers in the region with an aim of making it self-supporting. Workers Service Centres (WSCs) Need The data analysis of the sample respondents in the earlier section brings out the need for some help to these workers. It was noticed that large groups were found in Vashi, Belapur, Koperkairne and Airoli. These markets can be termed as having potential beneficiaries of WSCs. It was also noted that 95% of the responding workers were males a large number of themwere also married.. If a family is taken as a unit of attention then it was imperative to make the WSCs more women friendly so that they can also come to the market and seek services to improve their family living by different ways.. It is necessary to ensure facilities for these women and their children in terms rest room and crches. They also need social security facilities. Their skills have to be undated to make them more employable. These workers are exploited and are not provided adequate wages. They also need opportunities for better employment and training. The workers do not have toilet facilities. Worse, they also do not have pure drinking water facility. Above all many of them are not organized. All these highlight the need for developing some institutional structure that will help these workers in overcoming their difficulties and strengthen themselves. And for this one suggested solution is the institution of WSCs.


Structure The structure of these centers has to be developed depending on the activities planned and the scale of operation. To begin with there will be one center that will have centralized facility at one place. But as more centers are established, a separate leading center or one of the centers could double up as apex center. Again within a center there will be services offered by different persons with a coordinator at the top. Further in each center there will be 3 broad sets of activities one looking after various welfare facilities, one for skill development and education. And one dealing with skill building and employment/self-employment. The composition of each center will depend upon its various needs, number of workers it has to cater and intensity of activities to be carried out. Ideally there should five personnel. One manager at the top, three persons for the three broad categories of activities and one coordinator who will attend to the needs of individual workers and their development may be tried. The composition should be periodically reviewed as the center expands and activities increase. Functions Here the focus is on the function of the center as a whole. The center will have the functions of: a). Mobilizing workers in categories depending on the needs and the problems faced. b) Arranging for the employment of those who have skills or for their self employment c) estimating the excess supply and shortage category, d) determining the skill training needs and retraining or multi-skill training needs, e) locating and contacting training institutions and f) arranging or facilitating for need based training programmes. There can be several approaches for classifying workers, their training needs, mobilizing funds, placement methods, determining wages and incentives and so on. These will depend on the workers abilities and capabilities, supporting institutions and their capacities, availability of jobs and their potential and the scale of support. Approaches will be dynamic and made adaptable. Some Workers Service Centres (WSCs) Attempts have been made to conceptualise some sort of service centers to help the Naka Workers. The services may also be available to other construction workers. We have already discussed the cases of Mumbai Mobile Creche (Box 1) and NICMAR (see Box 2). We consider some more cases here. A good illustration of a typical service centres are 1. Aadhar Kendra and 2. Hamal Panchayat.


The Aadhar Kendra is functioning from a small room at the Vashi Bus Depot. An analysis of its functioning revealed what all can be expected from a WSC that can help the Naka workers in a variety of ways and almost all the needs of the Naka workers. The details are given in Box 3 below. The Aadhar Kendra also appears successful since it has been networking with a variety of organizations and in addition has been innovating to make the scheme successful and to some extent sustaining also. There are other organizations like the Hamal Panchayat which seems to be facing enormous difficulties. The construction workers for whom the Panhayat is working appeared to be extremely poor and hardly educated. Details about Hamal Panchayat are provided at Annexure I. The research team also interviewed some trade union leaders who had experience in leading Naka workers and helping them. The team was impressed with one Mr.Patharia who began his career in 1984 with Mathadi Labour board. Later he got associated with several NGOs and labor organizations working for Naka workers in Mumbai, Raigad, Thane and New Mumbai, Panvel. . He helped workers in promoting union activities as well as welfare activities. According to him the best way to mobilize workers was through welfare work. He said that creating leadership was the main problem but it was also the correct and effective solution for helping workers. Another senior leader was Mr. Baba Adhav, a well known senior trade unionist leading Hamal Panchayat based at Pune. He was leading a large group of labourers like hamals, ragpickers etc.. He pointed out that since workers are not well educated and poor they were exploited. His union is helping poor workers including Naka workers in Pune in getting basic living facilities for them.


Box No. 4- Aadhar Kendra

Aadar Kendra is a multi-purpose organization dedicated to improve the lot of construction workers. It is led by Alupam Salvi. It has also centers in other places like Kalamboli. Womens activities in the centre, among others, are managed by Rashmi pawar.

The Kendra has mobilized and organized a significant section of 250-300 construction workers, especially the Naka workers. It helps them to get jobs, arranges for the training of these workers and has formed some cooperatives to help workers to help themselves and counsels them. It maintains records, including a Register of workers. It acts as a service center for the workers. It is known for its services since it is located in a convenient place in Vashi Bus Depot. As a result, xxxxxxxxxxx whenever there is demand for any construction activity or repair work the needy customers approach the center which discusses their needs, fixes the wage rates for the construction workers of Naka market and sends suitable workers from the pool of workers who have registered themselves with the centre. It also takes up larger orders involving a larger number of workers under a contract. It maintains a detailed data base of the workers registered with it which enables it to respond immediately. It also collects newspaper articles on relevant matters that will be useful to the construction workers. It also brings out pamphlets covering subjects that are helpful to the workers. It also maintains records of its members for police verification purposes, thus developing the confidence of the customers about workers. The center has a good record of working with governmental organizations as well as nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) undertaking collaborating activities for the benefit of workers. Earlier its Leader Mr.Vijay Kanhere had formed joint venture with the organizations in Pune to implement schemes that provided employment to its workers. It helps unorganized workers also. It also arranges training programmes for the workers in trades like plumbing and arch-welding with the help of organizations like the Nirman. It also arranges short term training courses in new comparatively newer areas. It also implements schemes of self-employment schemes. It mains a Tool Bank from which it rents out machinery and equipment for workers on a rental basis which enable workers to get self employed. The Kendra promotes Self Help Groups (SHGs) from among its members, especially women members. The Kendra also undertakes welfare and health activities in the interests of health of workers. It arranges AIDS/HIV campaign with the help of NGOs like the Nirman. When workers suffer injuries while at work, The Kendra helps them in getting compensation under the appropriate law. Thus the Kendra functions as a typical Worker Service Centre that is sought to be developed under the present action research project.


ANNEXURES Annexure I Hamal Panchayat, Pune

Background Called Hamals in Maharashtra, manual load carriers are the backbone of commercial activity in every city. One of the most strenuous manual jobs is the job of a coolie (porter) who is expected to carry heavy loads on his head or back. The work of carrying heavy gunny bags on the backs or heads involves a lot of physical strain and health hazard. One coolie is expected to carry a bag weighing 75 to 100 kilos. Some of them work in this fashion for 12 hours a day. In Pune, there are over 14000 Hamals engaged in regular work. By about 1953 or 54, some coolies like Shri Laxman Mudrik, Shri Yashwant Hargude and a few others decided that they would build up an organization of coolies. However, most of them were illiterate and had no training or experience in organising a union. By this time they came in contact with a Socialist, Dr. Baba Adhav, who was a medical practitioner in a health centre owned by a socialist group, and requested him to help them in organising a union. He undertook the responsibility. Thus the nucleus of Hamal Pachayat, now a powerful organization, was formed in 1955. Office is Located at Timber Market a crowded area near Pune Station. All the services provided are within area of one kilo meter away from the head quarters of the Union. The Hamal Panchayat acts as a security blanket for porters, offering them basic economic facilities. The first step of the organisation was to guarantee these unskilled workers provident fund and gratuity. The society struggled long, for many years since its inception, and the breakthrough came when the Supreme Court, in 1980, ordered the constitution of a Mathadi Board to mediate and institute social and economic welfare measures for hamals. At present its membership is over 2000, consisting of head loaders, auto drivers, domestic workers, construction workers, and rag pickers.

Unlike many other unions in this country, this union runs a number of welfare projects for its members with the aim and objective of improving the overall quality of life of the coolies. The main projects are --- a) Kastachi Bhakar (Hard-Earned Bread) b)HamalNagar (a housing colony) c) Hamal Bhavan (a community centre d) Book-bank e) Brotherly-help f) a dispensary g) a grain shop h) cattle fodder shop. A short account of each of these projects is as follows:38

1. Kastachi Bhakar : The scheme employs 77 women workers on permanent basis and 25 more on a casual basis. In addition to these women 32 male workers look after transport of food and sales. Wholesome breads (chappati or Bhakari) along with some vegetables and sweets are cooked every day and sent to 9 centres in the city of Pune. The food is sold at a cheap rate to members and other workers, till about 10.00 p.m. About 5000 people take the food every day. The unique feature of this project is that all the people managing the project are illiterate or semi-literate coolies. But they manage all purchases, sales etc. The women employed are from the members families or often widows of former members. 2. Hamalnagar : Most of the coolies working in the wholesale markets of Pune are from the rural areas of Maharashtra. They came to the city alone, leaving their families in the villages. In Pune they live either in the godowns of merchants, on the verandahs of the shops, or in the slums nearby. The Panchayat secured a plot of 5 acres at a cheap rate from Pune Municipal Corporation, and built houses of 250 sq.ft. each.The Panchayat also secured bank loans for members who wished to purchase houses. So far 400 members have been provided houses. 3. Hamal Bhavan : (A Community Centre)

The Panchayat acquired a land on 99 years lease from the Marketing Board and has built a three storey building in a new suburb of Pune. This building was built entirely out of the Rs. Six lakhs building fund started from members contributing Rs.201 each. No donations from outside agencies were accepted. One floor of the building is utilized by the administrative office which implements the Mathadi Kamgar Act for these workers. The others two floors are let out to the members or other social organizations at cheap rate for weddings and other functions. The Panchayat also holds its meetings and functions in this place. 4. `Brotherly Help Fund : The Panchayat has a fund for providing immediate monetary help to the widow and children of a member in case of his sudden or accidental death. In addition to this, once in a year the widow gets Rs.250 from the fund as token help. These women are encouraged by the panchayat to be self-supporting by giving them sewing machines and finding them other means of livelihood. In the year 1985, 18 widows received such aid. 5. School And Book Bank: 39

A new school building has been built up by the HP in which the children of the members and the nearby community are enrolled. The school runs from 1st and 10th STD classes. In order to encourage their children to attend schools, the Panchayat has also set up scheme of a book-bank. Needy children are provided text books from the book bank. Those of them who go in for higher education receive a financial aid also from the panchayat. 6. Dispensary : From 1975 onwards Panchayat started a cheap dispensary. The dispensary provides cheap medicines to members and at the same time educates them in healthy living. All attempts are made by providing lectures and demonstrations etc. to wean members away from superstitions & witchcraft. They have to pay a token amount of Re.1 for the medicines they receive. As these workers are not covered under the Employee State Insurance Scheme, the Panchayat has its own health-fund from which this dispensary is run. If the worker needs hospitalization or surgery, the Panchayat helps the member to get these facilities at cheap rate. There is a special section for women and children and provision is made for immunization of children and family planning advice for women. 7. Workers Co-Operative : In 1966 some members of the Panchayat formed a worker cooperative with the objective of getting contracts of loading and unloading operations from marketing agencies of the Central or State Governments. This cooperative was a success for about 12 to 13 years. Later on they could not get the contracts and could not get the dues in time. Hence the cooperative ran into trouble. It still has members, but they now buy and sell cattle fodder and run a grain shop. These two new avenues of income have proved a success. This short account of the welfare facilities provided by the Panchayat to its members shows that the Panchayat, unlike many other unions which cater only for the industrial problems of the members, is trying for an all round improvement in the quality of its members.


Annexure II
A Public Hearing on the status of Women Construction Workers was held in Mumbai on February 11, 2004 at the instance of the National Commission for Women. The Hearing was conducted by Ms. Poornima Advani, Chairperson of the National Commission for Women. The hearing was attended by Sh. M. B. Gadre, Labour Commissioner, Maharashtra. Over 400 workers and government officials testified before a panel comprising of former High Court Judge S.D. Pandit, veteran trade union leader Dr. Baba Adhav, trade unionist and researcher Sujata Gothoskar, advocate Sanghraj Rupwate, Nirmalatai Prabhawalkar and Abhay Mokashi, a media consultant. The public hearing was organized by the Nirmana Mazdoor Panchayat Sangam in the premises of the Mumbai Marathi Patrakar Sangh in collaboration with the Joint Action Committee for Construction Labour, Nirmana Mazdoor Sangathana, Asangathit Shramik Samajik Suraksha Parishad, and the India Centre for Human Rights and Law. The public hearing was conducted on the status of the implementation of the Building and Other Construction Workers (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 1996 and the Building and Other Construction Workers Welfare and Cess Act,. 1996. Opening Session In his opening remarks, Dr Baba Adhav said that of the 40 crore workers in the country only two or three crore who work in the organized sector are covered by any protective laws that entitle them to decent wages and social security benefits. The rest work in difficult conditions and the majority does not get minimum wages or sufficient earnings to feed themselves and their families. In this situation, it is vital that all workers be covered by suitable legislation that ensures their right to livelihood and social security. On the special problems of construction workers Dr. Adhav said that construction labourers are practically bonded labourers. Contractors bring workers and their families from distant states. This ensures a workforce that is totally dependent on the contractor for survival. Many of these workers cannot speak the local language and are unable to communicate their problems to local authorities or trade union persons or social workers. Baba Adhav pointed out that many construction labourers die in accidents but the contractors and builders cover up these cases. They send the bodies back to their native place and claim that the deaths were because of liquor consumption.

Sujata Madhok Report on the Status of Women Workers in the Construction Industry;National Commission for Women,New Delhi;2005


He said that although construction work is hazardous in nature, not a single worker is covered by accident or life insurance. Even those working on large projects are not insured. In contrast, the workers on every lorry have to be insured, including the driver, cleaner and helpers. It should be mandatory for construction workers to be insured. He suggested that at the stage when building plans are passed, municipal bodies must take an undertaking from the person/agency planning the construction that adequate provision is being made for housing the workers and providing water and sanitation, and a crche and schooling facilities for their children. He also said that cheap credit should be available to construction workers and other unorganised sector workers, including the self-employed, both for consumption expenditure and for buying tools etc. Construction workers, he said, are always in debt. It is strange, he pointed out, that when a poor person borrows money they have to pay higher interest than a rich person. A worker who takes Rs.90 in the morning has to pay back Rs.100 in the evening. Minimum 10% interest per day is the norm and sometimes it goes up to 25%. The government has no provision for loans to poor people but it ensures that the rich get cheap loans. A businessman pays interest at a maximum annual rate of 18%. Banks and insurance companies are all benefitting the business class and ignoring the needs of workers. Of the 2 crore nirman mazdoor, how many have bank accounts, he asked. He demanded that Construction Workers Welfare Boards should be immediately set up in all states. At present only the three states of Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Delhi have Boards. Among the welfare benefits being denied to construction workers are drinking water, accommodation, employment regulation, payment of minimum wages, equal wages for women, creches and schooling for children. Only strong organisations of workers can ensure that they get these rights, he said. Baba Aadhav also appealed to all workers to give up alcohol and stop destroying their own lives and the lives of their families. He alleged that contractors encourage consumption of liquor to keep the workers in a stupor and unable to challenge them. There may be no drinking water in a zhopadpatti but there is always liquor flowing. Arokya Mary, a spokeswoman of the Asangathit Shramik Samajik Suraksha Parishad, an alliance of 20 organisations formed for collective action and pressure on issues of unorganized sector workers,expressed solidarity with construction workers. She said the Parishad wants deprived groups like rag pickers and domestic workers to be treated as semi-skilled workers and given insurance, medical facilities, maternity leave and other benefits. Subhash Bhatnagar of the Nirmana Mazdoor Panchayat Sangam said the organization had struggled for nearly 20 years to get social security for construction sector workers. Although the lobbying and advocacy had focussed on the Central Government in New Delhi, the inspiration had come from Maharashtras Mathadi Labour Act. In 1996, Parliament finally enacted the two laws to protect construction workers and set up Boards for their welfare. 42

Regrettably, these laws have still not been implemented. Only six states have made serious efforts to implement these laws so far. Maharashtra has still not set up a Welfare Board. It is to inquire into this non-performance and highlight the plight of women construction workers that the National Commission for Women has sponsored the series of public hearings. He said that unemployment in the construction sector is increasing because of mechanization. In Delhi there are huge construction sites where flyovers and roads are being built. An entire metro network is being built by the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation. But on all these sites one sees hardly any women workers. All workers currently face the threat of being displaced by new, sophisticated machinery but women are the worst affected, being the least skilled workers. The majority of women are employed as head loaders. They are being displaced by new, crane-type concrete mixers that mix the concrete and convey it mechanically to the place where it is required. Bhatnagar urged the National Commission for Women to provide retraining for these displaced workers so that they can find alternative employment. Women from several organizations of the unorganized sector in Maharashtra testified at the Public Hearing to the problems they faced in finding work, getting paid and sustaining themselves and their families. They said that unemployment was a constant problem. Women construction workers said there was discrimination in wages, with the contractors paying them Rs 80 per day while paying men Rs 100 per day. They had neither ration cards nor electoral identity cards. Constantly relocating homes from worksite to worksite and living in impromptu housing without clean water and sanitation was extremely difficult. This affected their health and that of their families. Childcare, they said, is a special problem, as children are particularly vulnerable to accidents on the worksites. Children cannot be educated because of the constant relocation. Sexual harassment and non-payment of wages are major problems. Sagar Taide of the Satyashodhak Kamgar Sangathana said that no city can run without workers but because they are unorganized they are unable to pressurise the government to look after their needs. The problems of women in construction are the same as those of other women workers. All workers are at the mercy of thekedars and employers. A major problem of construction workers, he said, is the lack of proper employment venues. To find work, they are forced to stand in the open and wait for contractors to offer them casual daily work. When workers stand in the naka (crossing) shopkeepers and businessmen object and complain to the police. Police do not take the side of workers. Workers in the entire unorganized sector have to organize and become a strong collective force to get justice, he said. Kamla Pawar, a worker from Mulund, testified that although she and her neighbours had lived in the same zhopadpatti for 20 years the police is now trying to evict them. She asserted that it is their right to have proper housing in the city. Machhendra Wankhede of the Asangathit Shramik Panchayat pointed out that all working people in Mumbai are at the mercy of the local goondas and police. Women 43

fehriwalas and other vendors are forced to pay hafta to the police and the corporation staff to be able to work and earn a living. Neelabai Pasare, a construction worker from Mumbra, said she stands in the naka every morning,sometimes from 8 a.m. to noon, waiting for work. There is no guarantee that she will get work. She earns Rs 80 per workday and her husband earns Rs 100. In Kalyan (a Mumbai suburb) the wages are lower, with women getting only Rs 70. Workers, she said, generally have to commute long distances and have to pay for their transport themselves. They get no bonus, nothing extra. The construction companies exploit them by making them work extra hours. Contractors invariably delay payment, often paying out Rs 5 at the end of the day with reluctance. Pasare also strongly asserted that it is their childrens right to get education. They cannot afford to pay donations. Children should be able to study till at least the 12th standard. She complained that workers like her are forced to live in zopadpattis in terrible conditions. The children are constantly exposed to the sun and the rain. Workers do not demand air conditioned rooms, she said, but should at least have pucca housing. Vaijayanta, a lecturer who also works for the Nirmana Sangh, said that she had researched the problems of women in the construction sector and found that many women work right through pregnancy and even deliver children at the worksite or naka. They do not go to hospitals because they are ill treated there. They get neither maternity leave nor maternity benefits. As a result of living in poor conditions, infections and diseases of the reproductive tract are common and leucorrhoea is a big problem. The health of all the women is affected, they are weak and most say that they have lost a few children. Childcare, she said, was a special problem. She has seen women take babies up to top floors of tall buildings and tie the paalna (cloth cradle) there. They cannot leave the babies at home or even on a crche on the ground floor (if there is one) because they have to be breastfed. Women feed their babies hiding from the contractor. There are no toilets on any site, so where do women go? There is no place to bathe in privacy and clean oneself of the dust and dirt of the workday. There is clean water provided when it is needed for construction but not for drinking. Women who live in impromptu housing cannot cook and leave the food lying in their huts because cats and dogs can get in. They cook during the lunch break and hurriedly feed the family. Vaijayanta dwelt on the extreme insecurity of migrant women, saying that when a family comes to the city, the man goes to find work but the woman worries about where she will spend the night in safety. The woman worker bears a triple burden, that of a working woman, that of a householder who must feed the family, and that of a mother who has to secure the welfare and health of her children. Women face discrimination on the job because even if they have the same skills as the men they are not given the same work. Most of the womens earnings are spent on running the household and the husbands take away the rest. Thekedars act tough and do not pay wages regularly, handing out only enough for daily expenses and commuting. It is not safe for women to stand for a couple of hours at the naka. Thekedars and others eye 44

them, harass them. She said that if employment is provided through Boards, women would be saved such daily harassment. Bhagwat, a male construction worker from Bhandup, testified that he had fallen down from the first floor of a building while doing painting, six months back. The police took him to hospital. He is disabled and can no longer work. He said he had no insurance and has nothing to fall back on. His wife testified that it is becoming difficult to feed their two children. After the accident she had gone to the Seth. He gave her Rs.100 and packed her off. He said her husband would not be able to work and advised her to get him operated. She does not have the money for surgery and the Seth refuses to give compensation. Prakash, who used to find work in Mumbra naka, showed his fractured leg and said he had fallen from the third floor. His back was strapped up and the thekedar told him to carry on working despite his injury. This one-legged young man asked why there were no facilities for handicapped construction workers like him to make a living? Vijaya from Nagpur testified that she gets paid Rs.60 by the contractor and often has to work as late as nine o.clock in the night. She said it is difficult for women to make ends meet, especially since the men are all addicted to liquor. There is no money to educate the children. She said that medical expenses are a heavy burden and the contractor does not help even in crises like illness and hospitalisation. State Labour Commissioner M.B. Gadre admitted that Maharashtra has two kinds of bonded labour, Naka Mazdoor and Bandkam. He said the condition of the Bandakam, who are migrant workers, is the worst. Most of them are from distant states and do not speak the local language Marathi or even Hindi, making it difficult for them to communicate their problems. By law, he said, contractors can only employ a certain percentage of migrant workers and he should be informed if there are violations. The problem, he said, is that workers are not organised to demand their rights. On the issue of minimum wages, he said the law applies to both men and women and claimed that his office is trying to ensure that it is implemented. He said that the national security scheme announced by the NDA government would benefit all unorganised workers,including construction workers, whether they are Naka workers or Bandakam workers.

Afternoon Session
In the afternoon session, Baba Adhav recalled the history of workers. struggles in Maharashtra and said that in the recent years the government has attacked the hard won rights of organized workers, removing the protections that they had obtained with such labour. To cover up its anti-labour policies, it promised some benefits to unorganized workers and set up the Second Labour Commission. The Commission recommended umbrella legislation to provide basic social security to all workers but that legislation has not been enacted. Instead, in its hurry to appear prolabour on the eve of elections the government has announced a faulty scheme for 45

unorganized workers. He urged workers to used the pre-election period to extract their rights and announced a series of agitational activities for this purpose. During this session, more workers testified to their problems. Several raised the issue of housing and of evictions. Abban Bhai said there are a lot of zopadpattis in and around Mumbra naka. Policemen come and try to remove the huts. These hutment dwellers had earlier been dislocated. They had been living in one area for 40 years but were persuaded to shift and promised alternative land of their own and facilities like water supply and schools. They believed the government and took their old bricks to build houses in the new dwelling place. But they were not given land. There are no facilities in the new area, not even toilets for the women. Sindhutai of Bhandup spoke about their terrible living conditions. She said they have no drinking water, no light and no ration card. For the last 15 years she and her neighbours have been promised that they will be given the rights to their huts but they have not got it. She said the open drains and dirty environment leads to breeding of mosquitoes and her children fall ill frequently. Usha Laxman from Mobile Creches also said that the polluted, dirty living environment spreads disease among workers and their families. She referred to the problem of child labour and said it destroys childrens health and future. During this session, there were a few testimonies by workers located in other parts of Maharashtra and in neighbouring states. Some workers from Gujarat reported on their difficult living and working conditions. Prenita Katara said she lives in a village and works very hard, sleeping only at 3 a.m. She goes out to fetch water late at night; otherwise she does not get water. There is no toilet or bathroom in their houses. Women have to rise early in the morning to go out and ease themselves. Women also have to cook food for the children before leaving for work. She said not much work is available in the villages so people are being forced to go to the cities. But even there older women get no work, only young women get work easily, especially those who have no children. Women should get a pension at the age of 45 years, she said. Vipulbhai Pandya of the Gujarat based Bandkam Mazdoor Sangh said that machines had come in and taken over the work. As a result people are not getting jobs. Machines should be banned, he demanded. 93% of construction workers fall into the unskilled category and 87% work in the naka as casual labour, he said. He added that many people get only 10 to 15 days. employment in a month. Yet those who get work are forced to labour for 10 to 12 hours. Contract workers cannot question their working conditions, as they have no evidence to even prove their employment. The result of such exploitation, he said, is poverty. Construction workers who build houses for others, have no houses to live in. 93% of construction workers in Ahmedabad have no housing. Some 20,000 migrant tribals are working in Ahmedabad in terrible conditions.


Gorakh Nath Rathor, a plumber from Nallasopara, complained about non-payment and under payment by contractors. He said that once the work is finished some contractors refuse to pay on the excuse that the job has been done badly. If a worker goes to the police, the contractor bribes the police. He said contractors often delay womens wages. Women wait till late at night but are told to come on the next day for the earned wages. Madhukar Patil from Raigad testified that the brick kiln workers are the most exploited among construction workers. During the Ganpati festival or Gauri Purnima or other celebrations many people take loans from the brick kiln owners and later they have to work in the kilns to pay off the loans. Brick kiln workers do not even get wages but are paid in kind because the kiln owners also run provision stores and liquor shops. Jayashree, a worker from Ratnagiri, testified that tribal workers are often cheated and wages not paid. Habibulla, a worker from Malad Naka, complained that a contractor did not pay his wages and that when he approached the police they said it was not their job to get people.s wages paid. Vilas Bhongade of the Maharashtra Bankhkam Va Lakud Kamgar Sangathana, Nagpur, said that accidents at work are common. One person dies every day. But the cases are hushed up. The police say that the man was drunk. FIRs are manipulated. Sunder Navalkar of the United Labour Union said that the Constitution Of India speaks of food, shelter and education as fundamental rights. A government that cannot provide these is not fit to govern, he said. Indian laws he said are very beautiful but the implementation is zero. He spoke of his forty years. experience in the construction sector recalling that back in 1962 construction workers were getting paid Rs.1 to 2 per day. In 1964 they started getting Rs.3.64. He asked why today construction workers in Maharashtra are not getting the minimum wage of Rs.136? He recalled that the government made a law in 1966 that workers should get the minimum wage. But everywhere there is a contract system and contractors and builders make all the money. If the builder pays Rs 100 he gets Rs 500 in return. The government wants these middlemen, he said. Navalkar denounced the NDA governments social security scheme because instead of providing benefits it takes money out of workers. pockets. It asks workers to pay Rs 50 or Rs 100 a month for social security. He said the scheme has a proviso for paying pension to those who are above 60 years.But many workers will not live up to 60 years. He said the governments first priority should be to ensure that workers gets work every day. Housing, health and work should also get priority. For this we have to fight, he told the workers present. Abhay Mokashi, media and political consultant, said although construction workers have built the cities and given them hospitals, colleges and big buildings they themselves live in deprivation. He said one major cause was the fact that the workers are not literate. Had they been educated they would not have worked in the construction industry where the returns are so low. Advocate S. Rupawate urged the National Commission for Women to 47

use its influence with the Central and state governments to improve the lot of the construction workers by implementing the legislations that have been enacted for them Justice S.D. Pandit urged the workers to improve their knowledge and information levels and actively demand their rights. He said the need of the hour was umbrella legislation for the protection of all workers in the unorganized sector. Madhukant Pathariya of the Nirman Mazdoor Sangathana said that in Mumbai workers have been fighting for the last 40 years to get the right to live. The government has still not given them any right over their huts. It has not given electricity, drinking water, toilets and drainage systems. He said that wherever there are hutments, whether it is in Mumbra or Matunga, our fight is concerning land. There are 200 Nakas in Mumbai but not even one naka is authorised. Vegetable vendors and autorickshawallas are taking over these spaces. We should have the right to stand in the nakas but we are thrown out. The police come and drive us away. They throw out our tools. Builders bring people from outside and give them a place to live in but do nothing for local workers. The workers are paid less because the builders want us to live like this. If we get more money our standard of living will improve. Workers in factories get Rs.15000 but construction workers get only Rs.800 to Rs.900. This is because we are illiterate and unorganized, he said. Pathariya pointed out that construction workers are not self employed. Somebody is purchasing our labour. It should be paid for adequately. The law on minimum wages should be implemented. The Labour Inspectors are meant to ensure the welfare of the workers but they take bribes from the builders. Workers do not get their legal entitlements. Women never get the maternity benefits they are supposed to be given. There is no equal pay for equal work; women are always given less, although this is against the law. The situation could change, he said, if a Welfare Board is set up for workers. It is high time that state governments implement the central laws meant to benefit construction workers. Maharashtra has no Board. It should be set up immediately. The Public Hearing ended with slogans in support of the workers demands.NCW Chairperson Purnima Advani and members of the jury as well as construction workers Representatives subsequently addressed a Press Conference on the issues and demands spotlighted at the Public Hearing.