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04 Feb 2010

Report of the Committee, (Constituted by the Hon'ble High Court, of Delhi in WP (Civil) No. 524/2010 in People's Union for Democratic Rights and Others Vs. Union of India and two others on 3.2.2010 On Matters pertaining to working and living conditions of workers
in Commonwealth Games Construction Sites, October, 2010

Summary of the findings:
• It was difficult to confirm that minimum wages were being paid to all workers.
• Muster rolls were examined at some sites but they could not be verified.
• Almost all the main contractors use the service of labour contractors, often without verifying their antecedents and the fact that whether they have obtained the licence required under the Interstate Migrant Workmen (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 1979.
• The Labour Contractors and thekedars recruit the workers from villages where they have some connection - in the case of interstate migrant workmen and where they have established some informal arrangements with the workmen. The main contractor pays the 'thekedar' by cheque; in turn, he disburses cash to the workers, reportedly in the presence of the principal employer.
• This system is obviously open to abuse. The majority of the employers did not seem aware of the provisions of the Interstate Migrant Workmen (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 1979 and the Rules framed thereunder, making thereby the plight of the workers more vulnerable.
• In many cases the workers were not receiving overtime at all and wherever received, it was single at the rate of ordinary wages as against the double the rate of ordinary wages which is the statutory position.
• In large number of cases, there was no weekly off i.e. getting 7 days wages for 6 days of work.
• Workers were employed on daily wage basis and received payment only for the days they actually work.
• At all sites, no wage slips were found to have been issued.
Health land safety:
• While most sites visited issued basic safety gear, it was common to observe that the workers were not using boots or gloves.
• Wherever workers were found to be using boots, a sum of Rs. 300/- to Rs. 800/- was reported to be deducted from the wages of some of the workers.
• There were reports of accidents at almost every site, but the same could not be verified.
• Most of these accidents were not reported to the Commissioner Workmen's Compensation.
• While safety officers have been appointed by some of the large establishments, safety training was not being imparted and safety supervision was even rarer.
• Medical examination of workers at regular and prescribed intervals was not usually taking place.
• Health facilities such as first aid centres at the work sites were few and far between; a first aid box was all that was available.
• Arrangements have been made by most establishments with a local clinic/nursing home/hospital for major injuries.
• At some sites, full fledged clinics were observed though not at the workers camps.

Living Conditions:
• Except in the case of the site at the Airport under DIAL/Larsen and Toubro, the living accommodation was basic, number of toilets too few considering ;the number of workers, the use of GI sheets for the hutments making these barracks insufferable in the extreme Delhi weather.
• Lack of overall hygiene, environmental sanitation and cleanliness was deplorable.
• The provisions of such sub-standard accommodation is bound to lower the productivity of the workers.

Other general observations:
• In many cases, neither the principal employer nor the contractor/sub contractor was aware of the provisions of the Building and Other Construction Worker's (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 1996.
• Only a very few workers at the sites visited had been registered under the Act.
• There is obvious ineffectiveness in action taken by the regulators in monitoring compliance with the -provisions of various laws/rules.
• There appears to be a distinct bias against the employment of women and provision of suitable amenities for them while they are accompanying their husbands. Only one creche was found operating at the Games Village.
• Much of the problems regarding accommodation arise from the non availability of land to build proper camps, MCD and PWD projects frequently use the road sides for worker's accommodation.
• There are far too many labour laws which make both
implementation and regulation difficult.
• The Committee was made aware of the numerous communications by the petitioners and other NGOs working in the field addressed to Government (both; Central and State) at various levels as also the labour law enforcement machinery (both Central and State) which received either no response or incomplete response.