THE Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), in a statement issued on April 3, has strongly condemned the decision of the government of India to withdraw the benefits under the Building and Other Construction Workers (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, for the MGNREGA workers.
The government of India has directed all the state and UT governments to withdraw registration of MGNREGA workers under the Building and Other Construction Workers (RECS) Act vide labour ministry's order dated February 10, 2017.
It is to be recalled that the decision to include MGNREGA workers who have completed 50 days of work, under the Building and Other Construction Workers Act, was taken in 2013 after the Supreme Court has directed the government in 2012 to issue appropriate directions for the effective implementation of the Act.
It is highly regrettable that instead of taking measures to ensure effective implementation of the Act and that the welfare benefits under the Act reach the workers, the government has denied the poor workers the benefits to which they were entitled. Less than 32 percent of construction workers were registered under the Act as in January 2016. The amount collected as cess was Rs 24,277.38 crores while it has been estimated that Rs 70,270 crores ought to have been collected. And out of this only a measly sum of Rs 5,684.8 crores has been spent for the benefit of nearly 2.3 crores workers registered with the board.
Since the BJP led government has come to power at the centre in 2014, it has been attacking the MGNREGA. Adequate funds are not being provided. The number of days of work provided under MGNREGA was less than 50 at the national level, making most of the MGNREGA workers ineligible even as per the earlier direction. In such a situation, instead of taking measures to improve their conditions, withdrawing even the existing benefit is deplorable.
CITU demands the government of India to immediately withdraw the concerned direction to the state and UT governments and continue registration of MGNREGA workers under the Building and Other Construction Workers' Act.
CITU calls upon all the organisations of MGNREGA workers and the building and construction workers, irrespective of affiliations to join together to bring pressure on the government to withdraw the concerned direction to the state and UT governments. It calls upon all its state committees to support the struggle of the MGNREGA workers against the withdrawal of their benefits.