16 May, 2020

Towards a safe and secure life for construction workers

The Tata Trusts established an on-site welfare facilitation model at construction sites for construction workers that offers end-to-end support to workers in accessing social security and financial inclusion

Ramesh Chourasiya, a construction worker in Maharashtra
Ramesh Chourasiya, a construction worker in Maharashtra
Ramesh Chourasiya, a construction worker in Maharashtra
Ramesh Chourasiya, a construction worker in Maharashtra

“I’d never, in the ten years that I’ve been working, known about the Board of Construction Workers (BOCW) that focuses on the well-being of us workers,” says an overwhelmed Ramesh Chourasiya, a mason who works in the construction industry in Thane, Maharashtra.
 
Hailing from Basti, UP, Ramesh spends 8-10 months away from his home and family, working on construction sites across Pune, Mumbai and Ahmedabad. He had no social security cover despite being entitled to be registered under the BOCW. Ramesh is not alone in this lack of awareness. Lakhs of workers like him are unaware of the BOCW’s existence even as builders continue to pay welfare cess to the board that falls under the Labour Department. The board’s lack of human resources usually leave workers across most states of India devoid of BOCW registration and its benefits.
 
Tata Trusts has set its eyes to change this. In 2017, Tata Trusts entered into a partnership with Tata Housing, to demonstrate an on-site welfare facilitation model. It offered end-to-end support to workers to improve access to social security and financial inclusion. The Trusts’ team deployed dedicated trained resources at construction sites to cater to worker awareness, help them file applications and liaise with BOCW officials. The teams also offer workers’ counselling. All this started expanding coverage and access to benefits to workers.

Ramesh is one such worker who benefited. Registering with BOCW in July 2019, Ramesh initially received safety and an essential kit. Later, he received a direct benefit transfer of INR 5,000 for purchasing toolkits, and INR 6,000 as scholarships for two of his children. “This service should be available on every site,” says Ramesh, gratefully. “I have three children and I want them to study in a good school. This monetary assistance will help greatly in furthering their education in the private school they are enrolled in. I have to pay 500 rupees per child per month to the school.” Like Ramesh, several hundred other workers have benefited onsite.
 
The Trusts and Tata Housing have facilitated a change in the construction sector. Builders are now cognisant that establishing welfare facilitation on their construction sites allows them to reap the fruits of the cess they pay to the BOCW. “The success behind every organisation is people,” says Sanjay Dutt, MD and CEO, Tata Realty & Infrastructure Ltd. “We design real estate for the people. When it’s designed by happy people who have toiled and laboured to turn a beautiful piece of architecture into reality, it makes a world of difference. I’m proud that we have contributed so much. We intend to do more in the future.” Ashok Doke, Assistant Commissioner of Labour, Department of Labour, Government of Maharashtra, concurs. “With the efforts of the builders, facilitators are able to register many labourers. This is a good initiative that helps them through the process.”