In the small town of Cheyyar in Tiruvannamalai district (Tamil Nadu State, India) the TKTMS union mobilised around 800 union members to extend solidarity with the victims of the Cheyyar building collapse. A few months back, this town witnessed a building collapse which left two workers dead and several more injured. Marching through the streets of Cheyyar and around the worksites, union members raised health and safety awareness slogans and concluded the march with a public meeting.
Addressing a large gathering, Pon Kumar, President of TKTMS stated “Every year thousands of workers are injured and many lives are lost due to occupational health and safety negligence and consequent accidents at construction sites and stone quarries. Occupational health and safety is not just a concern in India, even in the GCC region, migrant workers toil day and night in adverse weather, facing tough conditions at work.” He also emphasised the need for strong unions at worksites that can ensure better working conditions.
The meeting made the following recommendations:
• To take necessary steps to implement all the legislation relating to construction workers, especially the safety provisions of the Building and Other Construction Workers (Regulation of Employment And Conditions of Service Act) 1996 and the Interstate Migrant Workmen (Regulation of Employment And Conditions of Service ) Act 1979;
• To form a Joint Committee involving Trade Unions to study the situation of construction workers at MNC project sites and report to the government to take up remedy measures;
• To take necessary steps for the effective functioning of Tamil Nadu Construction Workers Welfare Board (TNCWWB); and
• To influence the Central Government to ratify ILO Convention No.162 on Asbestos and enact suitable legislation to ban asbestos use in India.