Commonwealth Games, National Pride and Workers’ Death

THERE IS NO ‘NATIONAL PRIDE’ IN WORKERS DYING OR BEING DISABLED FOR LIFE IN THE NAME OF COMMONWEALTH GAMES!

Dharna held outside Head Office of the CWG Organizing Committee against blatant exploitation of workers
Fact-Finding Team Visits Injured Workers: Shocked at Lack of Crucial Arrangements like a Help Line

Today on September 23, workers, trade unions, students and civil rights activists held a dharna outside the Head Office of the Commonwealth Games Organizing Committee in Jantar Mantar. This protest was called following the collapse of the hastily built footbridge outside JLN Stadium on September 21. The incident left 27 workers injured, five of whom are critically injured and admitted in AIIMS.

The protesters pointed to the obvious negligence on the part of government officials, and the fact that workers have been continuously exposed to dangerous work conditions across CWG work sites. They argued that the Games were being used to rake in huge profits for builders, many of whom acquired tenders surreptitiously from the government, and have unhesitatingly exploited workers and built structures of poor quality to save on building costs. Hailing the Games a profit-vending event rather than an event of ‘national pride’, Shri Alok Kumar (Secretary of Delhi Nirman Mazdoor Sangharsh Samiti), specified that contractors have made most of their profits by exploiting workers. He said that contractors have been openly exploiting construction workers by exposing them to long hours of work and dangerous work conditions. The government has been party to this exploitation since it is the principal employer in all CWG construction projects. Shri Nag Bhushan, a prominent trade unionist from Gurgaon also addressed the protest. He argued that that the government’s silence, and at the most its tardy response on the issue, has allowed for continuous and brutal exploitation of workers in the name of the Commonwealth Games.

It is for these reasons that the protesters targeted the Organizing Committee (OC). The delegation sent by them demanded the following:
i) Resignation of the state PWD Minister, Shri Rajkumar Chauhan
ii) Provision of government jobs to all 27 workers injured
iii) Immediate release of adequate compensation to all workers injured in CWG work sites.
iv) Cancellation of all contracts given to the accused construction company

Following the apathetic response of the OC the protesters decided to intensify the struggle against the exploitation of workers across CWG construction sites by using all democratic means possible. Trade unions present at the protest have decided to mobilize workers across all CWG worksites on the issue of workers’ blatant exploitation. Considering the fact that CWG organizers have repeatedly boycotted the interests of workers, workers have now decided to organize themselves and reach out to civil society in a bid to stall the Games completely. Through spontaneous protests throughout the period of construction work in CWG work sites, workers have rightfully delayed construction work of the CWG in the past. Now by providing their struggle an organized form they aim to expose to the Indian public, the brutality with which such mega events are organized and executed.

Following the protest at Jantar Mantar a fact finding team was constituted which visited the workers admitted in AIIMS. The team consisting of trade unionists, Delhi University teachers and students visited AIIMS and were shocked by the lack of crucial arrangements that should have been made by the CWG Organizing Committee. Out of the 8 patients hospitalized in AIIMS, 3 are admitted in the ICU (in critical condition, suffering from severe head injuries), and 5 have spinal injuries, out of whom one is already paralyzed. From the discussions with the patients’ relatives it was evident that no information was provided to them on the accident by the CWG Organizing Committee (OC) or Delhi Government. Relatives reached the hospital on hearing about the incident by word of mouth and no provisions were made by the OC/Delhi Government for their travel to Delhi! It was evident to the fact finding team that no volunteers from the OC were made available at AIIMS so as to help/guide relatives coming in to meet the patients. Indeed, the fact finding team itself had difficulty locating the workers in the hospital and ended up wasting crucial time before locating one of the injured workers. The apathy of the government officials was also revealed by the fact that some of the patients’ relatives have been asked to arranged for blood themselves. In its appraisal to the fact finding team, the AIIMS staff made it clear that the injured workers require long term rehabilitation.

The response of the Delhi Government is very shocking and their callous behavior (reflected in their unwillingness to provide proper facilities to workers injured in the name of CWG), is condemnable. We must highlight the terrible way in which workers have been exploited in the name of CWG. We hope that the larger civil society will step forward to help their laboring brethren.

Alok Kumar, Secretary, Delhi Nirman Mazdoor Sangharsh Samiti (Ph: 9313730069) Sujit Kumar, State Committee Member, Krantikari Yuva Sangathan (Ph: 9312654851)

Supported by:
Indian Council of Trade Unions (ICTU)
Centre For Struggling Workers in Trade Union (CSWTU)
All India Federation of Trade Unions (AIFTU)

Comments

  1. Dr.Ashish Asthana says:

    I agree with the view of shri Alok Kumar, and want to request the government through you that government should not only give compensation to the workers, it should take hard action against the contractor’s how just thin of filling their pockets…. THANK YOU…..
    ASHISH ASTHANA

  2. government jobs are still the best when it comes to job security -;;

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