What are the main difficulties faced by migrant labourers? Why they continue to be the most vulnerable lot in India?

October 24, 2018

The recent incident of exodus of migrant labourers from Gujrat is a testimony to the fact that the migrant labourers who contribute immensely to the economy of the host state receive little or no attention from the host governments. Mostly employed in the blue coloured jobs and labour intensive sectors they are highly concentrated in the unorganised sectors. This leaves them at the mercy of the employers.

Difficulties faced by migrant workers

  • Low wages.
  • Very long hours without any overtime benefits.
  • Forced to work without leaves and social protection.
  • Migrant workers live on worksites in makeshift huts (usually made of tin sheets) or on roads, slums and in illegal settlements which lack basic amenities.

Why they are most vulnerable?

  • Lack of data about the migrant labourers results in denial attitude of the host governments about their need and well being.
  • The Inter-State Migrant Workmen Act and other labour laws (for unorganised workers) which provides measures like entitlement tom basic labor rights like  minimum wages, regular wage payment, regular working hours and overtime payment, and decent working and living conditions hasn’t been given due attention by the state authorities since the migrants doesn’t cause much impact on the electoral outcomes.
  • The protection of rights of migrant labourers has hardly received any mention in the political arena. On the other hand the capitalist-politician nexus promote the status quo since they promote their vested interest of cheap labour.

Way forward

Together with continued exploitation the migrant labourers face the unrest from local workers since they are perceived as job snatchers. This is causing social unrest. The real solution is to enforce all relevant labour laws for migrant workers so that the migrant workers are not exploited and a fair and equal deal in the labour market weakens the unfair competition between local and migrant labour.

   

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