Bhubaneswar: Aide et Action organised a one day consultation on “Rights & welfare of seasonal migrant workers- Policies and gaps” on 18th December, 2019 on the eve of International Migrants’ day at Hotel Suryansh, Bhubaneswar.
It was attended by representatives of government departments, judiciary & legal professionals, Civil Society organizations, migrant workers from different sectors, and media personnel.
Welcoming the participants Mr. Umi Daniel, Director-Migration & Education, Aide et Action delivered the key note and provided an over view about labour migration in India and Odisha. Migration happens for the want of a better quality of life and also due to distress. He highlighted on the situation of distress migration in the western part of Odisha. And thereby about the existing laws and policies like that of Inter-state Migrant workers’ Act, 1979 and the newly formed Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions (OSH) Code of 2019.
Mr. Asim Amitabh Dash, Member, Odisha Human Rights Commission, Govt of Odisha and chief guest of the consultation raised concerns revolving around the health, safety and wages of migrant workers. Odisha is a key source state for migrants moving to Andhra Pradesh, Chattisgarh, Surat and Telangana. He focussed upon the need to make migration more safe and legal in all possible ways.
Mr. Subash Singh, Chairperson, Odisha Building and Other Construction Workers Welfare Board, Govt. Of Odisha talked about registration of migrant workers along with their security to be ensured. He deliberated about safe migration, where the focus must be given more on implementation. Because Odisha happens to be one of those states to have two boards meant for unorganized workers and migrant workers and many safety mechanisms are in place already. 2019 has been a year where over 50 middle men have been arrested by the district administration. And Khurdha district has been added to the list of 11 migration districts. Odisha is the first state to have registered brick kiln migrant workers under the Building and Other Construction Workers Welfare Board. And 29 lakhs workers of different sectors have been registered under this Board so far.
Prof. Asha Hans, President, Sansristi, Bhubaneswar spoke about migrant women with climate change in context. She stressed upon the need for decent wage, safety and working condition for women migrant workers. Proper record of women and children migrating along with the male members of the family should be recorded by the contractor and maintained. Therefore, a robust monitoring system for this tracking should be brought to place. And thereby she stressed upon the push factors for migration that has only been increasing over the years. Migration can only be checked through proper and sustainable job creation at source.
Mr. Rajesh Pravakar Patil, IAS, Director Special Project, Panchayat Raj & Drinking water, Govt of Odisha spoke about the upcoming changes in MGNREGA, where the number of working days has been increased to 200 days total with an enhancement in the wage as well. The concept of INRM (Integrated Natural Resource Management) has been adopted in this new model to maintain sustainability and efficient service delivery in 20 intensive blocks of 4 migration prone districts of Odisha. He talked about including stakeholders right from the GP level to district administration to create Shramik Sangha, Sahayat Kendra and having clusters to look into livelihood creation at the base. Besides that, timely payment shall be done and for the same a corpus fund of Rs. 500 Cr has been created. Many community based organizations have been included in this model to facilitate efficiency of this new working model of MGNREGA.
Further deliberation led to discussion on situation of migrant workers in Odisha and implementation of laws and policies. Mr. Prashant Kumar Nayak, Western Odisha Migration Network discussed on the Seasonal brick kiln labour migration in Western Odisha, Grass root media perspective on migration was shared by Mr. Sudhir Kumar Mishra, the Pioneer, Balangir and Role of SCPCR on protection of rights of migrant children was shared by Mr. Harihar Naik, Member, OSCPCR. Further there was elaborate deliberation on a comparative analysis of ISMW Act & OSH Code by Mr. Jyotiprakash Brahma, Senior Program Manager, Aide et Action. He stressed on the fact that the OSH code lacks a robust reporting mechanism which is needed at the source. Ms. Kunti Rani Pradhan, Research Associate cum Teaching Assistance, National Law University, Odisha talked about the implication and the clause definition gaps in OSH code.
A detailed plan of action was prepared which will be submitted to the government for consideration. Mr. Saroj Barik, Programme Manager of Aide et Action coordinated the event and delivered the vote of thanks.