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Social Justice

Migrant Issues and Safeguards

  • 10 Mar 2023
  • 6 min read

For Prelims: Human Migration, India’s migrant workers, Labour Codes.

For Mains: Legal framework for migrant welfare, Issues with Labour Codes, Need for a migration-centric policy.

Why in News?

Tamil Nadu’s industrial and manufacturing sectors are concerned about possibility of migrant worker exodus after purported attacks on Hindi-speaking men.

  • The state’s industries heavily rely on the estimated one million migrant workers.

What are the Issues Faced by Migrant Workers?

  • Social and Psychological Aspects:
    • Many times, migrants are not easily accepted by the host place, and they always remain as a second-class citizen.
    • Any person migrating to a new culture faces multiple challenges, from cultural adaptation and language barriers to homesickness and loneliness.
  • Exclusion from Political Rights and Social Benefits:
    • Migrant workers are deprived of many opportunities to exercise their political rights like the right to vote.
    • Moreover, the need to provide proof of address, Voter IDs and Aadhaar cards, which is difficult due to the fluidity of their lives, deprive them from accessing welfare schemes and policies.
  • Issues faced by Marginalised Sections:
    • Whereas the people who are poor or belong to a marginalised section do not find it easy to mix up.

What is the Legal Framework for Migrant Labour Welfare?

What are the Issues with Legal Framework for Migrant Workers?

  • Inter-State Migrant Workmen Act, 1979 has not been fully implemented in states.
  • Small Startups and Informal Sector Left out From Social Security Coverage.There are no specific provisions for social security of employees in small startups, Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises or workers in small establishments having less than 300 workers.
  • Migrant workers, self-employed workers, home-based workers, and other vulnerable groups in rural areas are not covered under social security benefits.
    • This would enable companies to introduce arbitrary service conditions for their workers.

What are the Steps taken by Government for Migrant Welfare?

  • Central Government’s Steps:
  • State Governments’ Steps:
    • In 2012, with the help of the International Labour Organisation, an MoU was signed between Odisha and Andhra Pradesh to track labourers migrating from 11 districts of Odisha to work in brick kilns in then-united Andhra Pradesh.
    • Kerala has set up facilitation centres for migrant workers to maintain data regarding migrant workers arriving in Kerala as well as help migrant workers navigate any problems they might face.
    • Jharkhand has started the Safe and Responsible Migration Initiative (SRMI) in 2021, which aims at enabling systemic registration of migrant workers for monitoring and analysis in the source as well as the destination districts.
    • Jharkhand government will have help desks which will be known as ‘labour consulates’ in various states.

Way Forward

  • Merely enrolling workers in a registry will not be effective unless they also have access to social security benefits. Therefore, it is crucial for the central government to collaborate with states and coordinate their actions in safeguarding the rights of workers.

UPSC Civil Services Exam, Previous Year Questions (PYQ)

Q. What are the main socio-economic implications arising out of the development of IT industries in major cities of India? (2021)

Q. Discuss the changes in the trends of labour migration within and outside India in the last four decades. (2015)


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