Note on welfare benefits to MGNREGA workers under Building and Other Construction Workers’ (RECS) Act

After a sustained struggle by the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), Central Govt. was forced to pass an Act i.e. “Building and Other Construction Workers (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act and Building and other Construction Workers’ Welfare Cess Act in 1996, to regulate the employment and conditions of service and to provide for safety, health and welfare measures for crores of building and other construction workers in the country. The State Government were directed to constitute Building and other construction workers’ welfare Boards. Construction workers who have worked for 90 days in a year can be registered with the construction workers welfare board. These welfare boards will provide immediate assistance to a beneficiary, who is registered with the board, in case of accident, making payment of pension, giving financial assistance for marriage of son/daughter of the construction workers, scholarship to the two children of the registered construction workers. The implementation of various provisions of these Act specially those relating to registration of workers as beneficiaries, collection of cess and its utilization for welfare of Building and other construction workers is the responsibility of the State government and State Building and other construction workers Welfare Board.

It has been noticed that very low percentage of construction workers are registered on beneficiary with the different Welfare Boards. Similarly percentage utilization of funds for welfare of construction workers has also been very low in large number of states.

Hon’ble Supreme Court vide his order dated the February 2012 has issued specific directions asking the Central Government to issue appropriate directions under Section 60 of the Board Act 1996 as well as Cess Act, 1996 for effective implementation of the Act. Otherwise also, the Central Govt. has been empowered under section 60 of the Building and other Construction Workers (Regulation of Employment and Conditions as Service) Act, 1996 to issue directions to the states and boards for carrying in to execution any of the provisions of the Act.

Keeping in view, the low registration of construction workers with the Construction Workers Welfare Board, the Central Govt. has directed all the State Govts to launch special drive for registration of MNREGA workers, who have completed 50 days of work in a year, under BOCW (RECS) Act on the basis of simpler process like self-certification by the applicants or certification by Panchayats etc. After these directions lakhs of MNREGA workers were registered with different construction welfare boards and were given financial benefits.

In 2014, BJP Govt came to power in the centre. BJP Govt. first attacked the MNREGA scheme and said that it is useless and it is not creating assets and has became the class of corruption. But MNREGA has become an Act and BJP Govt. has not sufficient number of MP in both the houses of Parliament. They started weakening of MNREGA by not providing sufficient funds for this scheme. In many times they stopped money for material component like cement, sand etc. and some other time they did not release money for wages of the MNREGA workers.

Now at last on 10th February 2017 the BJP Govt. led by Narendra Modi has snatched the Social Welfare Scheme given by construction welfare board under BOCW Act. Ministry of Labour and Employment, Govt. of India on 10th February, 2017 in its letter has communicated as under – “ Directions were issued by the Ministry’s letter under reference regarding registration of MNREGA workers who have completed 50 days of work in a year under MNREGA under BOCW (RECS) Act on the basis of simpler process like self certification by the applicants or certification by Panchayat etc.”.

The issue of registration of MNREGA workers as beneficiary under the Building and other construction workers (RECS) Act, 1996 has been re-examined in the Ministry and it has been decided to withdraw these directions.”

Now after withdrawal of these directions by Narendra Modi Govt., lakhs of MNREGA workers, majority of them are women will not get scholarship for their children will not get medical aid, will not get money for marriage of their son or daughter, will not get money for repair of their house, will not get other monetary assistance/help from the welfare board. The CITU strongly condemn this barbaric decision of the BJP Govt. and appeal the Central Govt. to withdraw its notorious letter of 10th February 2017 and direct the State Govt. to register MNREGA workers as beneficiary and Board Act, 1996.

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