The condition of migrant workers in the present time aptly implies the violation of human rights in India. All existing organisations at both end (mother state and work place) should, therefore, raise the issue. Through this update, the Ganatantrik Adhikar Surakhya Sangathan, Odisha appeals all like-minded organisations and individuals to attempt for protecting their rights.

  1. On 24th June, 47 girls (mainly of tribals and minor) reached Odisha after 20 to 22 days of incessant struggle with their employer at Tirupur, Tamilnadu. They all belong to Rayagada (Bisamakatak and Muniguda area) and Kalahandi district (Lanjigada). The police, the labor department officers of both the states, Odisha and Tamilnadu, and few volunteers of ODMMI did great efforts towards rescuing them. Those girls were engaged in 12- hours’ shift work and were getting Rs 4000pm only. The poverty of these girls of Odisha has turned to be a blessing for the employers of Tamilnadu.
  2. Many youths of Odisha, Bihar, West Bengal and Jharkhand have been working in garment industries of Tiripur of Tamilnadu. They stay in group in a small room that is provided to them by the owner. It, apparently, helps the owner to be vigilant on them. They are falsely promised of getting good salary and good working condition. Once they reached there, it became difficult for them to come back. The migration of unmarried young girls is a new practice to escape from the poverty of their family.
  3. The continuous occurrence of drought, irregular rainfall, depletion of forest, reduction of forest produces, encroachment of tribal land by plantation companies and mines, use of machines in MNREGA, not finding any skilled work, spending of money due to treatment of family members, lack of opportunity for higher education and vocational education, and economic disparity in own areas are the reasons for which these new generation of youths are migrating to other states; this is what they have expressed before GASS members.
  4. The low technology used sectors like textile, transport, agricultural farm, construction, business institutions, brick kilns etc. of big cities of the country gets work force from the rural areas of Bihar, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand and West Bengal etc. Near about 3.47% of total population of Odisha are migrant workers (which would be double now) who earn Rs 8397 per month (with 2017-18 price index) without any social security measures while working outside the state. Now these workers who have come back to the state are neither getting work here to survive nor can they go to the workplace of other states because of the spreading of Corona virus over there, what they are expressing.
  5. These migrant workers work in the worst condition and get less wages. They spend days and nights under surveillance of owners and they work with fear of retrenchment every time. Even after that they save some amount of money and send the same to own families. It helps in the growth of agriculture and business of the own state. But the working condition of employed states rarely come in the discussion in media of own state. The forums of protection of language, identity and culture including trade unions and human rights organisations of own states of these workers always have maintained silence on their plight.
  6. The trade unions, human rights organisations and other forums of employed states or rich states have not raised the issue of migrant workers in their areas due to different reasons. Our personal interactions with such forums find few reasons like difficulty in language to understand of migrant workers, continuous surveillance of owners on them, close proximity of these owners with nexus of ruling parties – police – labour departments – musclemen, and non-interest of media.

Conclusion: Those have returned to own state are living in profound poverty. The government has stopped all MNREGS work since 15th June. Today, we are appealing all organisations and individuals specifically concerned youths of the state:

  1. a) demand should be made before the government of all states to announce monetary help of Rs7500 per month. This should be given till the official declaration of normalcy out of the spread of the virus.
  2. b) they should prepare a data bank of all these migrant workers.
  3. c) they should make unit/group/forum of these workers at village/panchayat level and make link with local trade unions, human rights organisations, Dalit and Adivasi organisaitons, farmers’ bodies and media persons.
  4. d) they should see that nobody in the state will migrate out of sure desperation.
  5. e) they should attempt for abolition of labour contractor systems in the state and migration should happen with registration of workers at labour offices.

This violation of human rights of migrant workers at workplace can be minimized with proper coordination of human rights organisations, trade unions, peasants’ organisations and Dalit and Adivasi organisations of both the states. If it does not happen then all these sectors as a whole, where such workers are engaged, can be taken for the examples of violation of human rights.

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Prepared by : Ganatantrik Adhikar Surakha Sangathan, Odisha

Email: gassbhubaneswara@gmail.com

Ganatantrik Adhikar Suraksha Sangathan, Odisha (GASS) is a member-based autonomous democratic rights organization, working for the protection of human and democratic rights of common people in the state and outside. GASS stands for repealing of sedition law and abolition of capital punishment as also opposing communal, caste, gender and state violence.


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