The Building Workers Union organized protests on 30 November in front of the Delhi Chief Minister and Lt. Governor on construction workers' issues. It is to be noted that lakhs of construction workers are affected due to the 'Stop Work' imposed every year in the name of pollution control. These workers have nothing by way of economic-social security and the Delhi government's failure to make any policy in this regard is worsening the plight of the workers day by day.
Large numbers of construction workers from various areas in Delhi including Narela, Jehangirpuri, Sant Nagar, Burari, Wazirabad, Wazirpur, Timarpur, Mustafabad, Karawal Nagar, Gandhi Nagar, Jhilmil, Sangam Vihar, Okhla, Bhati Mines and Nazafgarh marched to the CM office. As the Delhi police closed the access to the CM camp office, a meeting was held on the road itself.
Addressing the meeting, CPIML Delhi State Secretary Ravi Rai said that the Delhi CM is making tall promises in election-bound states but he has no time for the workers in Delhi. His silence on the 4 labour codes imposed by the central government is condemnable. The Building Workers Union President Rajiv, a mason by profession, said that the pollution problem is not a new one; it is only the poor who are made to suffer for it, while the wealthy are unaffected. The Delhi government should provide construction workers with unemployment allowance equal to minimum wages. The recently announced aid of Rs 5000 is inadequate and is not reaching the workers. AICCTU Delhi State President Vinod Singh Gautam said that the Delhi government is not spending a single paisa out of its pocket for workers, neither is it making any policy for construction workers. A contingency fund should be set up by the government to help construction workers in such situations.
A memorandum signed by about 5000 construction workers from various Labour Chowks in Delhi was submitted to the Delhi Chief Minister and Lt. Governor. The memorandum made the following demands:
1. The financial aid amount for the 'Stop Work' period announced by the government is much lower than minimum wages and sustenance on this amount is impossible for the workers. We demand that all registered as well as non-registered construction workers in Delhi be given unemployment allowance equal to minimum wages during the period of 'Stop Work'. The process of registering those workers who are as yet unregistered should be speeded up.
2. The Delhi government should hold talks with trade unions and formulate a policy regarding the loss construction workers face due to pollution-induced 'Stop Work' every year.
3. At least 5% of the Delhi budget should be allocated for guarantee of livelihood to construction workers. If required, the Delhi government should use the money spent on hoardings and propaganda for the welfare of construction workers.
4. Strengthen the Construction Workers Welfare Board by collecting cess-arrears without delay from governmental/non-governmental institutions and individuals.
5. The Delhi CM must break his silence on the imposition of the 4 labour codes and demand their repeal in the same manner that he demanded the repeal of the 3 farm laws.