After the Supreme Court ordered that all citizens of the country must be provided free Covid – 19 vaccine, the state has been forced to undertake inoculation drives across the country. However, it is now being reported that the BJP-led government in the state of Karnataka has found a way to circumvent the order. The state has used the welfare fund of the building and other construction workers to get them vaccinated through private hospitals and nursing homes. In this regard, a total of Rs 15.60 Crores has been paid out of the construction workers’ welfare fund to private hospitals and nursing homes at Rs 789 per dose of the Covid-19 vaccine.
For the safety, welfare, and service of workers, the “Building and Other Construction Workers’ Welfare Board” was established under the “Building and Other Construction Workers (Regulation of Employment and Terms of Service) Act, 1996”. The All India Central Council of Trade Unions (AICCTU) has said in its press release that the board was established “to regulate the conditions of employment and service of the building and other construction workers and to enforce their safety, health and welfare measures”, adding that the government’s operation was a shock.
There are about 30 lakh registered workers on the welfare board. However, the present government has released funds for 2 lakh doses to be provided to workers by private hospitals.
The @WorkersBoard has decided to spend Rs. 15.6 Crores to purchase vaccines from private hospitals for construction workers
This decision is highly improper & looks to enrich private hospitals at the cost of workers instead of facilitating the provision of vaccine from the Govt pic.twitter.com/h9iksGsiRj
— AICCTU Karnataka (@aicctukar) September 4, 2021
One office bearer of AICCTU speaking to GauriLankeshNews.com said, “60% of building and construction workers have already been vaccinated. Migrant workers from outside the state enter the state only after they are vaccinated. The government did not respond to the request of the workers when they were left unemployed during the lockdown. Now, funds have been released to 400 hospitals out of workers’ welfare funds. This act has been undertaken for the benefit of private hospitals and not for the benefit of workers. ”
“The money earmarked for the benefit of the workers must be deposited directly into the worker’s account. It is reprehensive that these funds have been provided to corporate hospitals in the garb of helping workers. The lack of common sense on part of the government and the administration to even have a consultation with the workers or labor organizations before issuing the order is contrary to the democratic system, ”the AICCTU said in its press release.
“It is unfortunate that, due to the policies of the ruling government that has worked as a slave to corporate companies, the funds set aside for the welfare of workers has been diverted to the private hospital and the nursing home association,” it said.
“The state government, which Corona did not care about the workers during the second wave, is now recklessly spending the money that was saved for the welfare of workers. “We condemn the government for eluding its responsibility and are now working in line with the interests of the private sector,” AICCTU said.
The AICCTU has called for the immediate repeal of the order that was issued by misusing the authority aimed at looting the building and other construction workers’ welfare funds. They have also demanded that “the building and other construction workers should be given the covid vaccine free of charge and the funds must be made use of for the welfare of the construction workers.”