Hyderabad: Construction workers and trade unions held state-wide protests on Friday, September 18, in Andhra Pradesh protesting against the YSRCP led government’s move for diverting construction workers welfare funds for other schemes. Workers’ leaders are alleging that the government has diverted Rs 450 crore from the Andhra Pradesh Building and Other Construction Workers Welfare Board (APBOCWW) for other state schemes instead of utilising the funds for construction workers.
Construction workers held protest demonstrations across village secretariats and labour commissioner offices in the state urging the government to utilise these funds for themselves.
“Trade unions have been demanding the government to pay unemployment allowance to construction workers who lost their jobs during the coronavirus pandemic, but the government has diverted Rs 450 crore from the construction workers’ welfare funds to the government’s insurance scheme (YSR Bhima). The government must return the money to the welfare fund and utilise it for construction workers,” said Venkata Subbayya, general secretary of Andhra Pradesh Building Workers Union, which is affiliated to the All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC). While addressing an online meeting on the issue, Subbayya said that the previous Telugu Desam Party government had utilised about Rs 600 crore from the construction workers’ fund for other purposes.
Among the common demands put forward by workers include depositing Rs 450 crore back to the APBOCWW, immediate payment of workers’ pending claims with the board and payment of Rs 10,000 per month for at least six months for the workers who are jobless due to the pandemic.
“Construction workers are in distress since the state government brought in a new sand policy last year. With lapses in the implementation, construction came to an halt for three months affecting lakhs of building workers and workers associated with construction,” said Subbayya. He added that 46 workers in the sector have died by suicide due to job losses trigged by the sand crisis. Following, this, trade unions had held numerous protests last year demanding the government to pay allowances for the construction workers who went jobless due to the sand crisis. 0
“About 50 lakh workers are associated with the construction sector. The pandemic has worsened their livelihoods,” Subbayya added.
Also read: Construction Workers Protest to Highlight Plight During Lockdown
The building workers’ union associated with the Centre of Indian Trade Union (CITU) in a statement has demanded the government to withdraw its order (GO 17) which facilitated the diversion of the construction workers fund for other purposes. Left parties have called the government’s diversion of funds from construction workers welfare funds to other schemes ‘illegal’ and have warned to intensify the workers’ stir.
Responding on the issue Pawan Kalyan, Jana Sena Party leader stated, “Instead of taking care of our workers, the government is diverting their welfare funds; 450 crores of AP Construction Workers Welfare Fund has been diverted by the YSRCP Govt for its own use.”