Registry of migrant workers need of the hour
Experts and labour activists opined that the government and the people of the state should understand the contribution of the guest workers in the economy of the state.
CHENNAI: In the wake of conflicts involving migrant workers and the local workers in different parts of the state, the need for mandatory registration of guest (migrant) workers and regulating labour intensive industries to ensure the rights of all sections of the workforce is being felt more than before.
Experts and labour activists opined that the government and the people of the state should understand the contribution of the guest workers in the economy of the state. At the same time, local representation in all sectors should be guaranteed to avoid such confrontations.
The core problem is that the authorities have allowed the employers to exploit the appalling condition of the guest workers, who are forced to work for long hours for less wage.
These need to be addressed to ensure the livelihood of local workers and safe working atmosphere for the guest workers. Though the existing labour laws speak volumes about the welfare of workers, including guest workers and labourers of unorganised sectors, they remain just on paper, leaving them to suffer.
R Geetha of Unorganised Workers’ Federation opined that conflict of interest would come when workforce from outside the state takes up a large portion of jobs in different sectors in the state. It is the duty of the government to step in to address the issues to ensure employment opportunities for the locals as well as the safety of the migrant workers. “The government should mandate registration of migrant
workers once they enter the state. It will guarantee the rights of migrant workers, who work for lesser wages than local hands. So, the employers are preferring the migrant workers, denying employment for the workforce (local labourers) in the state,” said Geetha.
Recalling the DMK’s poll promise that it would bring legislation to ensure 75 per cent employment in private and government sectors to the natives of the state, Geetha wondered why the state government is yet to materalise the promise.
Chair of International Institute of Migration and Development S Irudaya Rajan said migration is unstoppable once the wheel sets motion. The influx of migrants from northern states to Tamil Nadu and Kerala has been happening in large numbers for over a period of time. Stray incidents of clashes, involving migrant workers and the locals would not have an effect on the movement of migrants, who are playing a vital role in the development of the state.
“It is the duty of the government to take stern action on such incidents. People should recognise the contribution of migrant workers to the economy of the state,” he added.
On demands to enact a legislation to ensure majority of employment to locals in government and private sectors, including unorganised sectors, Rajan differed from others and said, “It is against the Constitution.”
He added that the Tamil Nadu government should not follow the “bad model” that prevails in Haryana where the government passed an order, directing the private sector to provide 75 per cent of the employment/jobs (considered for jobs that have less than Rs 30,000 monthly wage) to locals.