New Delhi, 24 September 2014: Addressing a cross-section of employees, employers, Indian and German Government representatives, Union Minister of Labour and Employment, Steel, Mines Narendra Singh Tomar said, “The Government is completely aware about issues confronting the well-being of labours in the unorganized sector, especially in the field of construction. We are adopting multi-pronged strategy to develop a mechanism to identify people working in the unorganized sector, and simultaneously, we are taking measures to augment their living standards, and take care of their health and children’s education.” The German Ambassador to India Michael Steiner shared the dais with Tomar in a Symposium and Exhibition held on ‘Occupational Health and Safety in the Construction Industry – Proceeding from a Problem to a Solution’ at India Habitat Centre here today. The symposium was jointly organized by Ministry of Labour & Employment, Government of India, and German Social Accident Insurance (DGUV) and Social Accident Insurance for the construction sector (BG BAU), Germany.
In his address, Tomar specified the budget provisions laid out by the new government towards development of infrastructure, indicating that construction sector was set to grow by leaps and bounds in the near future. He shared the vision of Indian Prime Minister for developing 100 Smart Cities in India, and urbanizing and industrializing the remaining parts of the country. “Considering that more than 10% of our working population is employed by this sector alone, the health and safety of construction workers is imperative for our society and government,” Tomar said. He appreciated German collaboration in the direction of improving safety standards in Indian construction industry, calling this as yet another step ahead in the area of Indo-German collaboration. Stressing upon the need for educating workers with regard to safety, Tomar mentioned about the changes proposed in Factory Act, necessitating the use of safety equipments.
In line with the government’s mission to skill India, the Minister said, “The working population in construction and other sectors is endowed with a rich heritage of knowledge. Our ministry is committed to providing them with training, followed by certification, which will get their talent acknowledged and facilitate higherwages.”Talking of the welfare fund cess earmarked for labour, he said that the ministry is trying all out efforts to, one, increase the collection of cess from employers, and two, maximize the expenditure of that cess for worker benefits. He also urged the gathering to focus on strengthening preventive mechanism with regard to construction related accidents, and expressed eagerness to learn about the conclusions and findings emerging from the workshop.
Michael Steiner termed the symposium as a “Fruitful example of Indo-German cooperation”, and regarded the Indian government’s vision to spend 1.2 trillion US dollars on infrastructure as the “right focus for exploring a young society with huge aspiration.” He informed that the two German bodies, DGUV and BG BAU, collaborating to organize the symposium, had helped Germany reduce accident rate by more than 75% in the last 25 years. He opined that “cost cannot be the only concern” in this industry, and expressed happiness about German collaboration in building a culture of health and safety in the Indian construction sector for the benefit of one and all.