Letter to BS: Enact laws offering social security to migrant workers

It’s a fact that migrant workers play an important role in the economy, particularly in the MSMEs
This refers to the Q&A “Movement of migrants must not be encouraged” (May 4). After five weeks of the nationwide lockdown, the Centre announced another extension for two weeks till May 17. The government, a day earlier, an­n­oun­ced six special trains, allowing travel of mi­grant workers to their home states. Further, it divided the nation into Red, Orange, and Green zones and eased restrictions on economic ac­tivities with certain guidelines. Sta­tes have been asked to relax the rules depending on local conditions.

Following the Centre’s an­n­oun­cement, state governments have started sending/receiving the stra­nded migrant workers after screening or isolating them. The Chief Ministers of Karnataka and Te­lan­gana, however, sensing shortage of workers when economic activities restart, promptly asked them to stay back. It’s a fact that migrant workers play an important role in the economy, particularly in the MSMEs, real estate and unorganised sectors. The central/state go­vernments and other stakeholders know this well but hardly do anything to address their grievances. The states where they migrate to earn their livelihood treat them as uninvited guests. Now, post easing of the lockdown, every stakeholder needs them desperately. The wo­rkers, stranded without proper roof and food, however, will prefer to go back to their homes. But, ma­ny of them, out of dire need, may return.

Age-old labour laws are likely to be reviewed. It’s high time the Uni­on government, in consultation with the states, enact laws offering social security to the migrant workers.

N Ramamurthy  Chennai

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