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India: High Court tells Bangalore Metro to improve conditions for its workers

10 July 2013
Shack used as housing for Indian metro workers
PSI, together with other global unions, has been carrying out an FNV/Global unions funded project in India to investigate working conditions. As part of the project, Building and Woodworkers’ International conducted a study on the Bangalore Metro.

The Bangalore Metro is being funded by the Japanese International Cooperation Agency, the Asian Development Bank and other domestic financial bodies. The study found that more than 5000 migrant laborers were employed in construction activities without any social security cover or safety measures. The workers were living in unacceptable conditions and were not paid for overtime work.

The case was brought before the Karnataka High Court on 3 July 2013. The court directed the Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Limited (BMRCL) to improve the conditions of the workers employed under the Bangalore Metro project. Responding to a Public Interest Litigation, the Division Bench directed the BMRCL to convene a meeting of contractors, labour department and petitioners to improve the conditions of the workers.

There are several Metro projects in major cities in India, with similar conditions for the workers. The ruling is important as the Court said that development cannot be at the cost of workers and gave a warning that the construction project would be stopped if human rights of workers are not protected The company was given 20 days to ensure compliance.

Global Unions had already raised the issue of violation of workers’ rights in Bangalore Metro during the ADB AGM in May 2013, as ADB was a co-funder. The construction unions are monitoring the project closely.

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