About five hundred construction workers including many women conducted a stay-in protest in the District Labour Office demanding release of social security benefits which have been kept pending for nearly six years.
The aggrieved workers had applied for accident benefit, old age pension, death benefits to family members etc, as per the Construction Workers Welfare Board's mandate.
According to office bearers of Tamilnadu AITUC Construction Workers Union, thousands of applications for claims of benefits have been kept pending for six years. Many of the applicants have died without availing the benefits. The families of those who are yet to receive the claims are in dire straits.
While the Labour Officer - in charge (Social Security Scheme), Koteswari says that the government grant was yet to be given for clearing pending dues to the workers, the General Secretary, Tamilnadu AITUC Construction Workers Union,K.Ravi says that the Construction Workers Welfare Board is flush with a corpus of Rs 1200 crore yet the workers are denied their legitimate claims.
Social security claim applications were being rejected arbitrarily or kept pending without assigning any reason, K.Ravi said. A woman Rajammal from Thurmanur village near Valapadi said that she applied for claim of old age pension, but the Labour Office wanted the application to be certified by a Village Administrative Officer vouching for the identity of the application simply because the her name was wrongly spelt in the application form. She submitted the VAO attested identity proof in October 2016 but her claim has not been settled yet.
Ravi further charges that the Construction Workers Welfare Board was depositing its surplus funds with private banks and making huge interest income while thousands of clams remain unsettled all over the state. Tamilndu Government collects only 1 percent welfare board cess on building constructions while 2 percent is the legal limit. Workers are languishing in want and many die pathetically deprived of social security,
Labour Officer (Social Security Scheme) Koteswari said that the applications worth Rs 6 crore claim have been processed and the beneficiary list is ready for disbursal. The government is planning to release the entire backlog claims soon. Rejection of applications were due to fraudulent claims she said.
A.Mohan, CPI District Secretary, M.Munusamy, District General Secretary, Tamilnadu AITUC Construction Workers Union, A.Vimalan, Paramasivam former District officer bearers of the union were among those present.