Construction workers staged a protest in front of the Karnataka Building and Other Construction Workers Welfare Board in Bengaluru on Monday. The protest was held with the primary demand of Rs 10,000 compensation for the loss of employment during the pandemic. The protest was led by Karnataka State Construction Workersâ€™ Unionsâ€™ Coordination Committee which was composed of different organisations affiliated to several trade unions. The other demands raised by the workers were Rs 5 lakh support for the construction of a house, extension of child delivery benefit to wives of construction workers with labour cards, a program to provide cooking gas, and 100% medical compensation for workers.
The protest was to commence at 11 am. However, according to union leaders, even before it began, police detained a group of over 40 workers and took them away as a preventive measure. The microphone, flags and placards of the unions have also been seized, they said.
"We followed all COVID-19 protocols and assembled here. Workers were wearing masks and maintaining a safe distance. But as the police arrived, they immediately detained over 40 workers and took them away. Is what the police did right?" asked Hanumesh, secretary, All India United Trade Union Center (AIUTUC), Bengaluru.
Other workers later arrived at the welfare board office and continued to protest. The CEO of the welfare board Akram Pasha arrived outside the building and union leaders handed him a memorandum with their demands.
"Our main demand is that 24 lakh workers who have membership in this board should be given a compensation of Rs 10,000...but the government has declared that only Rs 3,000 will be given to the workers from the board," said Appanna.
The other demand of the workers was that the money had to be deposited directly to the workers' accounts instead of into food kits that the government has been distributing since the lockdown.
"The important issue is that ministers and officials have been purchasing ration kits, tool kits and medical kits and distributing them. Instead of this, the money could have directly been deposited to the workers. By doing this, there is a huge amount of corruption involved," Appanna alleged.