Centre Issues Detailed Advisory on Migrant Workers' Welfare

Labour rights activists have said the advisory does not do enough, as there is no commitment to wages, decent facilities and enforcement.

New Delhi: The Centre on Thursday issued a detailed advisory to state governments for the welfare of migrant workers returning to destination states in the backdrop of COVID-19. People working for the welfare of workers, however, have found the 18-point advisory to be inadequate as it does not speak of a commitment to wages, decent facilities and enforcement.

The advisory has urged all states or union territories to nominate a state-level nodal officer and also district, block and tehsil-wise nodal officers to coordinate all issues relating to migrant workers, including their screening and testing for COVID-19 as per the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare protocol.

Directions have been issued that no financial burden should be put on migrant workers for testing, treatment or quarantine.

These officers from the state of origin and destination would also be required to hold periodical review meetings through video conferencing. The states and UTs have also been advised to provide face masks, sanitiser and soaps to the migrant workers at the time of screening before they depart for their destination state/UT.

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A database of migrant workers would also be created to identify and protect them, the advisory said, adding that the state of origin would collect the data on a prescribed format. This would have the name, age, gender, phone number, state of domicile, destination address, occupation details and Aadhaar and social security scheme details of the workers. This information is also required to be shared with the state to which the worker would be going.

Both the state of origin and destination would also be required to ensure enrolment of migrant workers in various social security and welfare schemes of the state and Central governments. Data on workers not covered in any of the schemes would be required to be shared with the Director General of Labour Welfare via e-mail to facilitate coverage of such workers under social security schemes.

Similarly, the states of origin and destination would also be required to ensure enrolment of eligible migrant workers in Ayushman Bharat Scheme, which provides health insurance to the covered persons.

The state governments have also been directed to ensure periodical medical examination of the migrant workers and their Labour Department have been asked to educate and create awareness among the workers and employees about social security and welfare schemes.

The advisory also said vulnerable migrant workers should be identified and provision should be made by the district administration to provide them rations in time of need.

On working conditions for the migrant workers, the advisory said the establishments should ensure availability of adequate quantity of sanitisers, face masks and soaps at the workplace and adherence to social distancing norms. It said employers should also be encouraged to provide one time transportation allowance or journey fare to migrant workers.

On the issue of wages, it said “employers should also be encouraged to provide wages as per the prevailing labour laws, facilitate provision for suitable housing arrangement and ensure enrolment of the migrant workmen in existing social security and welfare schemes.”

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For the children of migrant workers, it said the governments of destination and origin states must take all measures to prevent any adverse effect on their education. “The enrolment of the children of migrant workers in schools where they are staying must be ensured by concerned state government/UT,” it added.

The advisory also advocated an online single window grievance redressal system, including a toll free helpline number, in all States to assist the migrant workers in distress. It said the labour departments should also ensure implementation of welfare provisions such as displacement allowance and provision for housing facility as mentioned in the Inter State Migrant Workmen (RECS) Act, 1979.

Finally the governments have been told to monitor the situation, circumstances and activities of migrant workers periodically and take necessary action.