Government to empower unorganised tradesmen in construction sector

The thrust on infrastructure development would give a big boost to employment in the construction sector and the government is planning to attract traditional knowledge in the construction sector through better wages and improved working conditions, labour minister Narendra Singh Tomar said at an Indo-German symposium and exhibition in the capital.

''When traditional knowledge of construction workers will get official certification, safety and better wages will follow,'' Thomar said while addressing a cross-section of employees, employers, Indian and German government representatives.

''The government is completely aware of issues confronting the well-being of labourers in the unorganised sector, especially in the field of construction. We are adopting multi-pronged strategy to develop a mechanism to identify people working in the unorganised sector, and simultaneously, we are taking measures to augment their living standards, and take care of their health and children's education.''

Tomar specified the budget provisions laid out by the new government towards development of infrastructure, indicating that construction sector was set to grow by leaps and bounds in the near future. He shared the vision of Prime Minister Narendra Modi for developing 100 smart cities in India, and urbanising and industrialising the remaining parts of the country.

''Considering that more than 10 per cent of our working population is employed by this sector alone, the health and safety of construction workers is imperative for our society and government,'' Tomar said.

He appreciated German collaboration in the direction of improving safety standards in Indian construction industry, calling this as yet another step ahead in the area of Indo-German collaboration.

Stressing the need for educating workers on safety, Tomar mentioned the changes proposed in Factory Act, necessitating the use of safety equipments.

In line with the government's mission to skill India, the minister said, ''The working population in construction and other sectors is endowed with a rich heritage of knowledge. Our ministry is committed to providing them with training, followed by certification, which will get their talent acknowledged and facilitate higher wages.''

Talking of the welfare fund cess earmarked for labour, he said the ministry is making all out efforts to increase the collection of cess from employers and maximise the expenditure of that cess for workers' benefits.

He also suggested increased focus on strengthening preventive mechanism with regard to construction related accidents, and expressed eagerness to learn about the conclusions and findings emerging from the workshop.

German ambassador to India Michael Steiner, who shared the dais with Tomar, termed the symposium as a ''Fruitful example of Indo-German cooperation'', and regarded the Indian government's vision to spend $1.2 trillion on infrastructure as the ''right focus for exploring a young society with huge aspiration.''

Two German bodies, DGUV and BG BAU, collaborating to organise the symposium, had helped Germany reduce accident rate by more than 75 per cent in the last 25 years, he pointed out.

''Cost cannot be the only concern'' in this industry, he said, while expressing happiness about German collaboration in building a culture of health and safety in the Indian construction sector for the benefit of all.

The symposium and exhibition on 'Occupational Health and Safety in the Construction Industry - Proceeding from a Problem to a Solution' was jointly organised by the ministry of labour and employment, German Social Accident Insurance (DGUV) and Social Accident Insurance for the construction sector (BG BAU) at the India Habitat Centre in New Delhi today.