Labour addas : They live to fight for another day
Any vehicle that inadvertently or for whatever reason slows down on the road between District Central Library and the Public Gardens in Hanamkonda is surely to be swarmed with a horde of people.
Hanamkonda: Any vehicle that inadvertently or for whatever reason slows down on the road between District Central Library and the Public Gardens in Hanamkonda is surely to be swarmed with a horde of people. Don't be mistaken for anything else, their rush is for a livelihood.
Day in, day out, such was the livelihood crisis the rural migrant workers were facing despite the National Rural Employment Guarantee scheme, the government's flagship programme to alleviate poverty in rural pockets.
There are 286 labour addas (pick-up points) in the erstwhile Warangal district, where thousands of daily wage workers gather every day in search of work.
The day starts for these labourers as early as 5 am and ends at 5 pm, even long at times. Perhaps the firm believers of age-old saying – 'early bird catches worm', they turn to labour adda early anticipating to be hired first.
With no shelter, they all squat in the shade of trees holding traditional lunch boxes. In some places, they have to stand in scorching sun.
Thanks to the ever-evolving construction industry that polarised in the Greater Warangal Municipal Corporation limits. As a result, around 80 labour addas have sprung up within the periphery of tri-cities – Warangal, Hanamkonda and Kazipet.
If they get work, all that they could earn is Rs 200 (women) and Rs 350 (men) a day. In case of mestries (team leader) and skilled workers, it varies ranging from Rs 400 to Rs 500.
What they take home is understandable if they deduct bus fares and other miscellaneous expenditure. Even though the Telangana Building & Other Construction Workers Welfare Board (TBOCWWB) is offering welfare schemes, due to their lack of awareness regarding the system a huge chunk of workers in the construction sector are unable to avail those benefits.
It may be mentioned here that if the workers pay Rs 110, a one-time registration fee for five years, they are eligible for death, accident, marriage and maternity benefits from the Department of Labour.
Speaking to The Hans India, the Telangana Building & Other Construction Workers Union Warangal district (combined) honorary president Ragula Ramesh said: "Even though the government was offering quite a few welfare provisions, at least one lakh workers are not aware of it.
The emphasis is on government to bring awareness about the benefits. Even though the minimum wage act envisages Rs 650 a day, it remained on paper."
"We set out with the rooster' crow and return to our homes exhausted. We live with uncertainty waiting for someone to hire us for the day. There is no guarantee of getting work if we arrive at addas a bit late," M Rajaiah, a daily wage construction worker, said.
Warangal West trade unions joint action committee (JAC) convener Dr Pulla Srinivas said: "Even though the construction industry is flourishing, the economic growth does not seem to have changed the lives of construction workers.
They work in difficult conditions where employer least bother about their safety and security of life."
Expressing concern over the basic amenities available at the workplaces, he urged the Greater Warangal municipal authorities and Kakatiya Urban Development Authority (KUDA) to provide shelter at labour addas.
He heaped praise on Warangal West MLA Dasyam Vinay Bhaskarwho constituted special teams to help the workers get their names as enrolled labourers. So far, the MLA's teams were able to help more than 10,000 workers in getting their names enrolled, it's learnt.
The break-up of registered workers according to TBOCWWB website: Warangal Urban 58,237; Warangal Rural: 26,851; Jangaon 22,090; Mahabubabad 18,390; Jayashankar-Bhupalpally (including Mulugu) 16, 376.