Indian union holds state-wide protest vs. price hike of construction materials

The BWI-affiliated Thamizhaga Kattida Thozhilalargal Mathiya Sangam (TKTMS) and the Construction and Real Estate Coalition (CRIC) held a state-wide protest in Tamil Nadu, India on 4 February against what they called the “abnormal rise” in the prices of construction materials, such as cement and steel. 

More than 5,000 thousand construction workers participated in protest actions in the state’s ten districts. The Confederation of Real Estate Developers’ Associations of India (CREDAI) and the Builders Association of India (BAI) also sent representatives.     

TKTMS said that the hike in the prices of construction materials forced many construction sites to halt operations and send their workers home. It said that the issue has been a major concern for many months now with allegations of cartelisation and unfair trade practices by cement and steel companies. 

“The construction sector has been one of the first sectors to show signs of recovery, but this recovery has been offset by the dubious rise in prices of raw materials, making it unsustainable for many construction sites to continue operating. This has an impact on our members and other construction workers in the State. We denounce the cement and steel companies’ cartelisation and appeal to the government to take measures to check such unfair trade practices,” TKTMS President Ponkumar Ponnuswamy said. 

CREDAI echoed TKTMS’s statement. It appealed to the government to check the questionable hike in cement prices which it said rose to 40-50 percent despite the fall in demand due to COVID-19.

As a response to charges of price cartelisation, the Competition Commission of India (CCI) launched several raids on the offices of major cement companies, including the Cement Manufacturers Association.