Migrant Workers in India

Migrant Workers in India

News: Rumors of migrant workers being assaulted in Tamil Nadu have triggered concern among manufacturers in
the state.

What are issues related to migrant workers in India?
 Lack of data on migrant workers which makes it difficult to track labourers during times of crisis
 Lack of portability of state-provided benefits
 Lack of social security and health benefits
 Affordable housing remains a challenge
 Poor coordination among states on formal exchange of information
 The nativist agenda of political parties in the states. For example, many state governments have reserved a certain percentage of employment for locals.

What are legal framework for migrant welfare?
 The Inter-State Migrant Workmen Act, 1979 mandates that the establishments which employ migrant workers be required to be registered with destination states. Contractors will also have to obtain a licence from the concerned authority of the home as well as host states. However, this Act has not been fully implemented in practice.
 This Act has been subsumed into the four labour codes notified by the Centre - The Code on Wages, 2019, The Industrial Relations Code, 2020, The Code on Social Security, 2020; and The Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions Code, 2020. However, they remain to be implemented.

What are some of best practices adopted by states?
 Kerala has set up facilitation centres for migrant workers whom the state refers to as “guest workers”.
 Jharkhand has started the Safe and Responsible Migration Initiative (SRMI) in 2021 to generate data and then map the labourers who move out to several states for work.
 Gujarat government has recently launched the Mukhyamantri Shramik Basera Yojana which facilities construction of houses for construction workers/laborers/migrants near their place of work so that they can have a decent lifestyle with their family.

Way Forward
 The 4 labour codes need to be implemented at the earliest and central and state government’s efforts need to be coordinated.
 The welfare measures for the community should include the supply of pulses and edible oil at concessional rates under the PDS, supplementing what is being given under the ‘One Nation One Ration Card’
 Focused efforts on children of migrant workers who should be given adequate opportunities for their schooling and education. 

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