Rights of Interstate Migrant workers in the light of COVID-19 pandemic

By Aishwarya Deep Singh 47 Minutes Read

Hunger, unemployment and boredom occasionally drove the ryot out of the village and into the city. Much more generally, the native village held him in spite of miserable living conditions. In his attachment to the village, he was influenced by several social institutions, among which caste, the joint family, early marriages, and the diversity of languages were the most important.[1]

INTRODUCTION

It is an established fact that work is a life necessity driven by the need for endurance and survival. The individuals like other living animals are compelled to move when endurance or survival is at the stake. In order to protect such individuals who are forced to migrate due to economic hardship, the Indian State has from time and again codified different work laws to shield labour from being exploited. The job of most noteworthy legal executive in the nation has been admirable in this context. By its driving choices it has guaranteed respect and dignity of labour.[2]

Since the industrial revolution labour rights are an essential for the economic and social development. The labour movement has been very effective in the enactment of the labour laws of the 19th and 20th century.

Labour law otherwise called employment law is the collection of laws, authoritative decisions, and points of reference that address the lawful privileges of, and limitations on, working individuals and their associations. In that capacity, it mediates numerous parts of the connection between worker’s organizations, managers, and workers. At the end of the day, Labour law characterizes the rights and commitments as laborers, union members, and managers in the working environment.

Labour is a resource for the development of national and financial state of the nation if appropriately organized and legitimately protected. As indicated by the Second National Commission on work 2002 in India just about 7% to 8% workforce in the composed division is secured, while 92% to 93% is unprotected, unorganized and vulnerable. Migrant labour is one of the different forms of unorganized labour force.[3]

It is widely accepted that laborers, who move from state to state looking for work on a temporary or regular premise without establishing themselves as the permanent residents of the state where they work, are known as Inter-State Migrant Workers. Migrant Work is basically transitory or occasional in character, it goes back and forth. The term ‘Migrant Worker’ is additionally connected with the ideas of provisional work and fortified work.

Migrant workers are in demand because they offer high skill useful work culture and expertise, charge a potentially lower wage rate and willing to take up less skilled occupation in the agro based industries, brickfields, cleaning and upkeep, construction work, household services, and health care.

Women migrant workers have to face significantly much greater challenge due to the gender underestimation in work culture, resulting into gender based monetary disparities. They are anyway qualified for the security of their fundamental rights under the rule that everyone must follow however they have not exclusively been denied equity social, financial, and political yet in addition as more vulnerable sex have been mishandled, disposed of to lead an improper, desperate and vagrant life.[4] Women migrant workers face the brunt of the patriarchal system and are denied of their offer and typically denounced as sub-human species, an object of scorn and criticism, an item of trade, a disposable resource, and a toy.

Under the Constitution of India, Labour is a subject in the concurrent list where both the Central and State Governments are capable to legislate on the subject. Quite a significant number of laws have been sanctioned therefore,  taking into account various parts of work in particular, occupational health, safety, employment, training of apprentices, fixation, review and revision of minimum wages, mode of payment of wages, payment of compensation to workmen who suffer injuries as a result of accidents or causing death or disablement, bonded labour, contract labour, women labour and child labour, resolution and adjudication of industrial disputes, provision of social security such as provident fund, employees’ state insurance, gratuity, provision for payment of bonus, regulating the working conditions of certain specific categories of workmen such as plantation labour, beedi workers etc.

The Constitution of India contains the proclamation of ‘justice – social, economic, and political’, which is the premise of the labour laws. The ‘social model’ of the Indian Constitution, originally envisaged by Prime Minister Jawahar Lal Nehru, is reflected in India’s framework of labour laws. These laws have improved the working conditions all kinds laborers. Labour law encapsulates the ethos of the Constitution to make the workplace, non-discriminatory to all, to guarantee work with dignity and a safe workspace environment.

Article 19 of the Indian Constitution provides every citizen of India with the freedom of movement to any territory of India. Migrant workers are the species of the workers at large. The Constitutional provisions which are related to the general labour class automatically cover the Migrant Workers in their preview. Article-23(1), Article-39, Article-42 and Article-43 of the Constitution of India pertain to the migrant workers also.

The Directive Principles of the State Policy under Part IV of the Constitution of India mandates that that State should direct its policy towards making sure about equal pay for equal work both for men and women under Article 39 (d). State ought to guarantee that the wellbeing and quality of the laborers isn’t abused.[5] To bestow the social-justice, labour laws are being enacted and revised as per the necessities of time, space and place.

The significant Labour Laws associated with regulation of the conditions and employment of migrant workers are the Inter-State Migrant Workers Act, 1979, the. The article shall be limited in its scope to examine the provisions and the feature of the Inter-State Migrant Workmen (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 1979.

HISTORY

Freedom of movement in any part of India and the freedom to carry out any occupation of one’s choice is a fundamental right ensured by Article 19 of the Constitution of India. Each citizen of India has a constitutionally guaranteed fundamental right that he can dwell and settle in any part of India and can accomplish any legitimate work for his occupation that implies any individual can leave his home State to other State in India looking for business. This freedom of movement is an established precursor to a free and liberal economy.

The International Labour Organization in 1950 (ILO) emphasized on the labour welfare and to provide them social security and stresses that ‘Labour Welfare’ as such services, facilities and amenities as may be established in or around the vicinity of undertaking to enable the persons employed in them to perform their work in healthy, congenial surroundings and to provide them with amenities conducive to good health and high morale[6]. The migrant workers’ rights are therefore also eligible to be interpreted in its light.

In the 28th session of the labour minister’s conference held in 1976 in New Delhi. The key issue put up for consideration was the protection and welfare of dadan labour. A recommendation for setting up a small compact committee that would look into the issues and come up with measures by which the practices prevalent in the system could be eliminated. The Inter-State Migrant Workmen are generally illiterate, unorganized and readily accept to work under incredibly unfriendly conditions and in the perspective of this hardship, some regulatory and administrative plans both in the state from where they are selected and furthermore in the state where they are locked in for work are important to make sure about powerful security against their abuse.[7]

Thus the compact committee which was established in 1977[8] under the chairmanship of Shri D. Bandyopadhyay suggested in its report of 1978 for the enactment of a separate central legislation to regulate the employment of Inter-State migrant Workers as it was felt that the provisions of the Contract Labour (Regulation and Abolition) Act, 1970, even after significant amendments, failed to deal with the malpractices and exploitation by the contractors/ sardars/ khatadars. A necessity for a legislation was realised which can facilitate the welfare of such workers taking into account the impossible conditions in which they need to work.

The proposals of the compact committee were analysed in consultation with the State government and the ministries of the government of India and the recommendations made by them were considered in figuring the proposition for enactment. These recommendations and deliberations resulted in the introduction of “Inter State Migrant Workmen (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act in the year 1979.

MAJOR CAUSES OF MIGRATION

A permanent economic establishment in a region, increases the employment ability of the area and provides jobs to the seekers which helps in removing the backwardness. Such locals often offered regular work, higher wages, and additional incentives which fundamentally cause movement from other backward regions towards economically developing capital. There are many push factors like irregular works, lower wages, and inaccessibility to various facilities in backward regions that encourage out-migration. This ultimately leads to developed states or specific areas of the state accommodating surplus of workforce which results in wages disparity and disequilibrium amongst the working class.

The laborers’ out-migration, however is widespread as of now in light of the absence of work opportunities, income disparity, no scope for future development, and sustainable occupation alternatives available outside. The nature and seriousness of issues differ in working labour class and rural educated middle class. The former by and large move for steady and regular work, higher wages, and standard living with some saving, whereas on the other hand, educated middle class ordinarily moves out for good education, employment, and decent facilities. Nonetheless, most of the migrants feel that standard work with a decent wage rate is fundamental for eliminating income inequality. It improves socio-economic status as well.

The backward states rank below in terms of socio-economic indicators as compared with national averages.  Higher incidence of poverty and absence of work opportunities have limited the general advancement of vulnerable areas of the society that adversely affects their livelihood.[9]

The new National Employment Guarantee Scheme[10], introduced in 2006, ensures guarantee of 100 days employment to unskilled labour force during slack season. But, it has failed to check out-migration as it does not cover skilled work force. The Inter-state Migrant Workmen (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 1979 ensures labour’s rights and facilities .

SALIENT FEATURES OF THE ACT

The Act applies to each establishment wherein at least five Inter-State Migrant Workers are employed or were employed on any day of the previous a year. The Act additionally in like manner applies to each contractor who employs or employed at least five Inter-State Migrant Workers during the preceding twelve months.[11] The Act characterizes an Inter-State Migrant Workman as, “any individual who is recruited by or through a contractor in any state under an agreement or other arrangement for employment in an establishment in another state, whether with or without the knowledge of the principal employer in relation to such establishment.”[12]

In order to consider a person as Inter – State Migrant Workman the following four conditions are to be satisfied under the Act:

  1. The worker should be recruited by a ‘Contractor’ in one state. (i.e., Home State of the worker).
  2. The recruitment should be for employment in an establishment in another State. (i.e., Host State).
  3. The recruitment may be made by an agreement or by any other arrangement.
  4. The recruitment may be made with or without the knowledge of the principal employer of an Industrial Establishment of the Host State.

As effectively expressed, Inter-State Migrant workmen under the Act signifies “any individual who is recruited by or through a contactor in one state, under an agreement or other agreement for employment in an establishment in another state”. In this procedure of recruitment and employment, the job of contractor is most significant who recruits them in a state and supplies them to a establishment in another state for employment. So as to manage the procedure, the Act enables the appropriate government to appoint licensing officers.[13] The appropriate government may define the jurisdiction and powers of the licensing officer at the time of appointment.[14]

The license under the Act may contain the terms and conditions of the agreement or other agreement under which the workmen will be recruited, the compensation payable, long periods of work, fixation of wages and other fundamental enhancements to be given to the Inter-State Migrant Workmen as esteemed fit by the appropriate government as per the guidelines and will be given on payment of prescribed fees.[15]

The Act makes it unlawful for a contractor either to recruit a person in a state for the purpose of employing him in any establishment in another state, or to employ a migrant worker for the execution of any work in any establishment in any state without having acquired a license under the Act and in violation of conditions of such a license.

The Act gives wage security to the Inter-State Migrant Workmen. The wage rate, holidays, long periods of work, and other conditions of service of Inter-State Migrant workmen shall be the same as those applicable to other workmen if they perform the same or similar kind of work in the establishment.[16] For no situation, the Inter-State Migrant Workmen be paid less than minimum wages fixed under the Minimum Wages Act, 1948 and the wages payable to the Inter-State Migrant Workmen shall be paid in cash notwithstanding any other mode of payment of wages is in operation under any other law for the time being in force.[17]

Section 27 of the Act makes provisions for punishment where an offence has been committed by a company—

(1) Where an offence under this Act has been committed by a company, every person who, at the time the offence was committed, was in charge of, and was responsible to, the company for the conduct of the business of the company, as well as the company, shall be deemed to be guilty of the offence and shall be liable to be proceeded against and punished accordingly: Provided that nothing contained in this sub-section shall render any such person liable to any punishment, if he proves that the offence was committed without his knowledge or that he had exercised all due diligence to prevent the commission of such offence. (2) Notwithstanding anything contained in sub-section (1), where any offence under this Act has been committed by a company and it is proved that the offence has been committed with the consent or connivance of, or is attributable to any neglect on the part of, any director, manager, secretary or other officer of the company, such director, manager, secretary or other officer shall be deemed to be guilty of that offence and shall be liable to be proceeded against and punished accordingly.[18]

Act provides for timely payment, suitable residential accommodation, medical facilities, protective clothing at the sites of work as well as off sites etc for migrants. In case of accident or causalities, the act also makes mandatory to the contractors for notifying such incidents to specified authorities and kin. Additionally, it ensures smooth dispute redressal mechanism at work place as well as in origin. In short, this act very well imbibes all the basic requirements and necessities of the migrant workers. It in every way tries to safeguard the rights of the workers whether they be exploited by the contractors or companies.

LABOUR JURISPRUDENCE AND LABOUR DIGNITY

Labour jurisprudence have been always exclusively talked in reference to the welfare of the working class. These labour enactment are trailed by the stimulus of the power and sanctions as clarified by John Austin. Without equality and sanctity of the principles and guidelines, justice cannot be obtained. Labour laws are made solely for the working and labour-class, which furnish them with the guidelines of prompt and just conditions to work and how to speak more loudly against the unjust and unfair practices at the working environment. The laws can secure the social interests of the labour class when the laws are appropriately channelized in the true spirit.[19]

The main essence of the inter-state Migrant Workmen Act is to restore the human dignity of migrant labour class as has been clearly expressed in Pollock v. Williams[20] in the following manner, “it offends against human dignity to compel a person to provide labour service to another if he does not wish to do so, even entered into by him.”

In a considerable number of undertakings, working conditions are damaging not exclusively to well -being yet additionally to human dignity.[21] The carefree feeling held by compilers of the National Commission on Labour report is such that industrial workers had become accustomed to such hardships and they pretty much overlooked them.[22] They did not even welcome that the workforce experiences the incredibly unfortunate conditions that characterize the production process and unmistakeably feel polluted by them.

The concept of ‘dignity of labour (respect for work)’ is one of the contemporary issues that have been fervently discussed by individuals originating from various areas of society. The term labour gives profound feeling of pride in the working people. By and by, the wisdom of moral and ethical commitment of private proprietorship in a market economy is acknowledged by its excellence of esteeming the person as one of the assets and thus, valued sensibly and developed. This is related to the prominent attitude of rewarding the person as one unique individual competent and competitive, which gauges the productivity as opposed to the value. Value or correspondence at the working environment is an end product to the dignity of labour as taught in the vast majority of economic theories. Unexpectedly, neo-traditional economists had come to a significantly more obvious perception of picking either value or effectiveness, in this manner discrediting the probability of accommodating value at the working environment and productivity of people at work.[23]

As indicated by Art 23 of the Indian Constitution, all types of forced labour are prohibited. Still instances of bonded labour are far-reaching all through the nation, wherein so as to pay back the credits, such labours vow their service regularly for no wages by any stretch of the imagination. Furthermore, as the credit amount increases, efforts to take care of debts will before long be transferred to family members, who also will be constrained to go into the comparable reinforced associations with their lords, characterized by compulsion, extended periods of time of work without sufficient rest and food, and frequently confronted with their lords’ forceful conduct. Moreover, notwithstanding the way that in 1950, the Indian Constitution abolished the act of “untouchability” by the Protection of Civil Rights Act, 1950, the imposition of social disabilities on persons by reason of their birth in certain castes still remains very much a part of both rural and urban India.[24]

The situation depicting the failure of state governments, and of the authoritative mechanisms set up to abolish forced labour, has left a vacuum which should be filled by common society associations like NGOs and groups of people worried about the predicament of forced labour and their dignity. Huge numbers of these agencies contribute successfully through various ways like research, awareness generation through campaigns and social advocacy, filing FIRs with the police, helping state governments in rehabilitation work, and social backing using Public Interest Litigations (PILs), which convey the heaviness of the decisions of Writ Courts. The Central and State governments should work more intimately with the judiciary toward improving the working states of workers, which would be instrumental in developing itself that is accepted to significantly improve the state of their dignity. A portion of the suggestions made by the international community to the Government of India on improving the general states of work and along these lines ensuring the value and respect of the workforce incorporate the proposals of Anti-Slavery International, Human Rights Watch, UN Human Rights Committee, and so on., which ought to be paid more attention. The profound established localism of the market-driven society, which is immersed by the social calamity of the deep rooted caste system, nearby the advancement of individualistic accepted practices common of the working class, alongside the evolution of individualistic social norms typical of the middle class, can barely keep the people from restraining their desire to be extra visible on the globe and make them step back in time to introspect over the ‘dignity’, which has been crushed under the burden of compulsion, duty, patronage, charity, mockery and oppression. In general public, which is enormously troubled by many years of persecution, both of craving or starvation or of the modern bureaucracy, the meaning of ‘dignity’ is frequently covered some place underneath the weight of the battle to remain alive. Accordingly, in the battle for dignity, if one accepts that dignity is worth having, then it is worth battling for.[25]

COMPARISION BETWEEN THE INTER STATE MIGRANT WORKMEN (REGULATION OF EMPLOYMENT AND CONDITIONS OF SERVICE) ACT 1979 AND THE CONTRACT LABOUR (REGULATION AND ABOLITION) ACT 1970

The Contract Labour Act and the Inter-State Migrant Workmen Act are intended to secure them against the misuse and the indecencies of the contracting system. The primary target of these laws is to destroy the indecencies and prevent misuses. The current examination previously expressed that the term migrant labour is too related to the idea of contract labour. Along these lines, it is important to look at the provisions of the contract labour Act and the migrant law.

  • As already stated Inter State Migrant Workmen Act applies to establishments where five or more inter-state workmen are employed through contractor within twelve months preceding to the present establishment, whereas, the Contract Labour Act applies to any establishment where twenty or more contractual workmen are employed or were employed on any day preceding twelve months as contract labour and to every contractor who employs or who have employed on any date of the preceding twelve months twenty or more workmen. The appropriate Government is further authorized to extend the provisions of the Act to every establishment or contractor employing such number of workmen being less than twenty to be specified in the notification. The Act does not apply to establishment where the work preferred of intermittent or casual nature. The Act applies to establishment of Government and local authority as well.
  • Licensing of contractors is basic for the legitimate recognition of the contractors. No contractor can recruit any inter-state worker without acquiring a license from the appropriate Government as has been endorsed in the Inter-State Migrant Workmen Act, whereas, in Contract Labour Act the Central Government and State Government is required to set up Central Advisory and State Advisory Board, which are approved to establish advisory group as esteemed proper. The functions of the Board would be advisory in issues emerging out of the administration of the Act as might be referred to it. The Boards are additionally to carry on the functions relegated to it under the Act.
  • The contractor and the principal employer has the legal obligation to give protection to the issues of labour welfare, comforts and health aspects of the inter-state migrant workmen. The Act and the Rules annexed to the provisions provide enough provisions concerning to the medical aid, maternity benefit female inter-state laborers, etc. whereas, the Contract Labour Act authorizes the appropriate Government to make rules for the medical aid, healthy drinking water, toilet and urinals. In case of failure on the part of the contractor to provide the said facilities, the principal employer is made provide the amenities.
  • The Inter-State Migrant Workmen Act contains the compliance of the Minimum Wages as fixed under the Minimum Wages Act, 1948.  Principal employer to nominate an agent to be present at the hour of dispensing of wages to the migrant worker by the contractor whereas, the contractor in the Contract Labour Act is required to pay wages and he is under an obligation to guarantee the dispensing of wages in the presence of approved agents of the principal employer. In case of failure on the part of the contractor to pay wages either in part or in full, the principal employer is at risk to pay the same. The principal employer is authorized to recover the sum either by deduction from the sum due to the contractor or as a debt payable by the contractor.

CRITICAL ANALYSIS OF THE ACT IN LIGHT OF COVID-19

The lockdown step taken by the Central government in order to eradicate the COVID-19 brings to light the need to rationalise the legislative framework for labour in India. Migrant labourers have been among the most affected because of the lockdown. Their endeavours to leave the urban communities before the lockdown, and the efforts put in to get back home, shows that they have low flexibility to remain in urban areas without employment. They escape everyone’s notice of India’s social security net, and the administration reaction has indicated a huge hole between expectations reflected in existing laws and their execution.

A key piece of enactment agoverning between state vagrants in India is the Inter-State Migrant Workmen (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 1979. The Act as expressed above was enacted to stop the exploitation of inter-state migrant laborers by contractos and to guarantee reasonable and not too bad conditions for employment. The law requires all establishments employing these laborers to be registered, and contractors who select such laborers to be licensed. Contractors are under a duty to give details of all laborers to the relevant authority. Migrant laborers are entitled to wage just like other laborers, displacement allowance, journey allowance, and payment of wages during the period of journey. Contractors are additionally required to make sure the workers receive regular payment, they face no kind of discrimination, make arrangements for their accommodation, and medical aid.

In the prompt outcome of the lockdown, state governments were surprised by inter-state migrants who were in urgent need to get back home. Many had lost employment, many failed to afford the rent, and feared of falling sick being away from their families. If the law had been implemented to its fullest, it would have implied that state governments had every detail of laborers coming through contractors inside their states. While this would in any case drop out the migrants who move across states on their own i.e. without being employed through the contractors, an enormous section would be naturally registered because of the demand of the Act. States would therefore have been more ready to find a way to secure such laborers during this lockdown. Nonetheless, practically no state appears to have actualized this law in letter and soul.

The explanation behind this is the difficult prerequisites set out in the law. It not just requires equal pay for the inter-state laborers yet in addition requires other social assurance that would make their employment altogether more costly than intra-state laborers. This incorporates the payment of various remittances and prerequisites that contractors ensure accommodation and medical facilities for such laborers. Compliance with these prerequisites is not just difficult, it causes the expense of recruiting these laborers higher than employing workers from inside the state.

In addition to the fact, this not only raises questions concerning the utility of such well-intentioned yet unrealistic law, it additionally puts light on the  absence of state’s ability to enforce such provisions. To execute this law alone, government inspectors would not just need to keep the records of inter-state laborers yet additionally check whether the various necessities in regards to wages, allowances, accommodation and medicinal services are met with.

The issues with the law and its non-implementation are suggestive of the socialist era when the mere enactment of a law with optimistic necessities upheld by legitimate pressure was viewed as sufficient for making great results. This law, and a lot other labour welfare enactments never considered issues like compliance costs, government’s limit with respect to implementation, and primarily, counter-profitable outcomes.

The results of the lockdown are as of now ending up being grievous for migrant labourers. One of the teachings from this scene is to not let optimistic necessities become a prevention to the effective protection of the very groups these necessities are intended for. This will require a principled differentiation among formalization and apparent social-welfare. While the former tries to make individuals or acts obvious or “clear”, the latter goes above and beyond. Social-welfare are predicated upon formalization, yet rebelliousness with cumbersome social welfare requirements can rather hinder formalization. This isn’t just a direct result of high compliance costs, yet in addition the states can scarcely stay aware of guaranteeing compliance with such requirements, made worse given the disincentives to comply.

This has made a two-level framework – formal and informal. Those in the formal level — less than 10 percent of the workforce — enjoy considerable protections, while those in the informal level get basically no protections. Since welfare plans are likewise based on the visibility of those getting the advantages, informal workers, particularly in urban territories, fall through breaks in the framework. The absence of any welfare net for informal workers in urban regions depicts the results of formalization on paper — while peasants get money transfers, and workers in rural regions have MGNREGA, there are not really any plans for informal workers in urban regions.

Laws, for example, the Inter-State Migrant Workmen Act, 1979 must, along these lines, be justified to remove prerequisites that disincentivise formalization. We should be practical and make sure that employers and contractors have motivating forces such as incentives to come up and register workers without being stressed over penal actions or unfeasible social security prerequisites.

CONCLUSION

The mandate of the National Planning Committee, set up in 1940 by the All India Congress Committee and drove by Jawaharlal Nehru, was to operationalize the nationalist mission, more solidly to detail the approaches that should have been executed after the declaration of Independence. The August gathering put together its orders with respect to considerations held in working gatherings on various topics. One of these was the working group on ”labour”. The minutes of the gatherings held by the working group on labour show that primarily those issues were examined that had to do with the guideline of industrial relations, for example working hours (forty-eight hours out of each week, nine hours out of every day), the wellbeing of the workforce, social security, lodging, and so on.[26]

At a conference held in Chicago in 1958 on Labour Commitment and Social Change(Moore and Feldman, Labour Commitment and Social Change.) Moore embroidered by specifying, with regard to India, “the web of rules” which needed to be fulfilled before one could speak of a stable and dedicated labour force:

when workers no longer look on their industrial employment as temporary, when they understand and accept the requirement of working as part of a group in a factory or other industrial enterprise, and when they find in the industrial environment a more adequate fulfilment of personal satisfactions than they enjoyed in the village or rural society, then in true sense we will see the upliftment of the workers.[27]

Keeping the above two points in the light, it can be understood that government bodies have always aimed at the welfare and upliftment of the laborers but with the present situation brought to light, it is clear that the policies of the governments’ have miserably failed at the ground level. The pandemic has successfully exposed miseries faced by the inter-state workers in different parts of the country. These workers due to lack of job opportunities and regional imbalances are forced to move to different parts of the country but unfortunately fail to live a decent life as promised by this act.

We all are very well aware of the fact that movement is itself an extreme endeavour as the migrants travel with or without family and live in exceptionally hard and troublesome conditions and face the process of hire and fire. They are required to work for extended periods in the harsh and unhygienic conditions. No accommodation, no clinical offices, no drinking water, no government welfare support for migrant workers, no crèche for their youngsters are given. They are low paid, the contractors by and large make deductions from their wages and they face biased treatment by the employers. The accidental wounds are a common element and miss the mark regarding sufficient clinical help or remuneration. Fuel, sanitation and insecurity (physical just as work) are the serious issues they face. They stay unguarded, unheard, and uninformed of their own privileges ensured by their own Constitution, government welfare enactment and government plans propelled by their own states. One may accept or not they face badgering, ill-treatment, burglary, coercive expulsion or destruction of their abodes by urban authorities or police power under beautification plans. The sexual misuse of ladies by bricklayers, contractual workers and other powerful people of the region is a routine however unreported in dread of unfurling results. The youngsters are considerably increasingly helpless against such abuse. The labour welfare laws, Government welfare projects and plans are good for nothing and above their imagination on account of numbness, absence of education, absence of information, social and monetary backwardness.[28]

The Inter-State Migrant Workmen (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 1979 is a welfare legislation that gives the protection to the inter-state migrant workers in India. It is the added incentive that enables the workmen to lead a decent life in the midst of urban congestion, rising inflation and poor living standards.[29] It is, therefore, a matter of high importance to draw attention to the needs and conditions of internal labour migrants in India.


[1] Ornati, Jobs and Workers in India, p. 36.
[2] People’s Union for Democratic Rights v Union of India (1982) 2 LLJ 454 (SC); M.C. Mehta v Union of India AIR 1987 SC 965; Bandhua Mukti Morcha v Union of India AIR 1984 SC 802; Neeraja Choudhary v State of MP AIR 1984 SC 1099.
[3] Dr. V.G. Goswami, ‘Labour and Industrial Laws’, vol. -1, Central Law Agency, Ninth Edition, 2011, p846.
[4] S.K. Awasthi and R.P. Kataria, ‘Law Relating to Protection of Human Rights’, Orient Publication Co., 2002, New Delhi, p.2.
[5] In Gurdeep Singh and V.K. Ahuja, ‘Human Rights in 21st Century: Changing Dimensions’, article of Dr. Rupam Jagota and Sandeep Kumar Passi, ‘Human Rights of Migrant Women domestic Workers: A Socio-Legal Perspective’, Universal Law Publishing House, New Delhi-2012, p.123.
[6] Report of International Labour Organization, Asian Regional Conference 1950.
[7] Source Link accessed on 29.05.2020
[8] Appointed by the Government of India, Ministry of Labour.
[9] Thaware, Kailas “INTER-STATES MIGRATION: CAUSES AND CONSEQUENCES”.
[10] The National Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA),is renamed as Mahatma Gandhi National Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA) from 2nd October 2009 on the occasion of 50 years of completion of Panchayati raj (golden Jubilee) in India.
[11] Inter-State Migrant Workmen (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 1979, s. 1(4)(a) and 1(4)(b).
[12] Id., s. 2(1)(e). [13] Id., s. 7. [14] Ibid. [15] Id., s. 8(2). [16] Id., s. 13. [17] Ibid. [18] Id., s, 27.
[19] Gopalakrishnan, R. (2015). Labour Jurisprudence of the Supreme Court. In K. Ramaswamy (Ed.), Labour, Employment and Economic Growth in India (pp. 292-318). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. (doi:10.1017/CBO9781316156476.012).
[20] 322 U.S. 4 (1944).
[21] Perlin, “Ragi, Roti and Four-Yard Dhoties”, p. 457.
[22] Government of India, Report of the National Commission on Labour, p. 35.
[23] Anderson, Elizabeth (2004), “Ethical Assumptions in Economic Theory: Some Lessons from the History of Credit and Bankruptcy”, Ethical Theory and Moral Practice, Vol. 7, No. 4, August, pp. 347-60.
[24] Donnelly, Jack, (1989), “Universal Human Rights in Theory and Practice”, Cornell University Press, Ithaca, p. 17.
[25] Spielberg, Herbert (1971), “Human Dignity: A Challenge to Contemporary Philosophy”, Philosophy Forum, Vol. 9. West, Jerry (2005), “In B.C., This is Fight for All of Us”, Rabble, October 19.
[26] Ray, Industrialization in India, Pant, Indian Labour Problems; Singh, Labour Economics; Sen, Working Class of India; Crouch, Indian Working Class.
[27] Myers, Labour Problems, p. 36.
[28] Dr. V.G. Goswami, ‘Labour and Industrial Laws’, vol. -1,Central Law Agency, Ninth Edition, 2011, p848.
[29] V.S.P. Rao, ‘Human Resource Management’, 2005, cited in article by Dr. Sunil Yadav,Labour Welfare : ‘An Analysis’, Labour Law Journal- October 2009-p-19.

Aishwarya Deep Singh

This website definitely helps one to know the basic points and the practical implementations of what all that is been taught in Law Schools. I am a contributor here because of my interest in the field of research.

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