Tuesday, 19 July 2022

Labour Rights Of Migrant Workers

 Introduction To Migrant Workers:

The increasing development and encouragement of technology made the workers run from one place to another in search of work to fight rising unemployment and poverty.

The term ‘migrant workers’ is defined under International Labor Organization (ILO)[1] which described the condition of a worker who moves from one place to another or who has already migrated to another place than their own, in search of work.

United Nations also defined the term ‘migrant worker who is engaged or will engage in any kind of remunerated activity provided some other state with a view of getting wages in which he is not citizen, under the convention which was introduced for Protection of the Rights of all Migrant Workers and Members of their Families. It further defines the undocumented worker or irregular worker which means the workers who don’t have complete documents nor completed their legal formality but still their stay in the country is more than authorized length.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) has described different kinds of migrant workers where they initially differentiated between economic migrants and labor migrants. Economic migrants are large group workers whose main aim is to perform economic activity like investing whereas Labor migrants are those workers who migrated with the objective of employment. They stated that the sub-group of migrant workers included business travelers and migrant workers on contract who can be bifurcated as a skilled worker, project-tied workers, seasonal worker, or temporary worker.


ILO has made some standards for countries from where the migrant workers belong and to where he lands up, for protecting the interest of this vulnerable section of society and to manage the flow of workers between two concerned countries.

Migration for Employment Convention (Revised), 1949 [2]

This was the initiative where the duty was imposed on the rectified states to facilitate international migration and provide basic facilities like information service and free assistance, to prevent misleading and fraud emigration. It was instructed to provide medical services to migrant workers and other facilities which they generally provide to their national workers. In addition to this, they stated that workers face a lot of problems in transferring earnings to their families who are in a different country; hence the transfer should be made easy and accessible for the migrant workers. Also, the migrant workers are entitled to basic rights such as freedom of association, social security, and the basic surviving condition, irrespective of their nation.


Migrant Workers (Supplementary Provisions) Convention, 1975 [3]

It focused o general human rights for the migrant workers and to prevent them from illegal or secret emigrations which are against their interest. They encourage equality between the workers who a citizen and who are not citizens but emigrated from another part of the world by even going beyond the provisions of the 1919 convention of ILO which talks about trade union, respect of culture, collective freedoms. They even call for the reuniting of the families of migrant workers who live legally in that country.

Social Security For Migrant Labor:

Constitutional duty is imposed on the international labor organization (ILO) to provide at least basic pay to workers and promote social security which is defined as per social security (minimum standards) convention 1952 which includes unemployment benefits, medical facilities, maternity benefits, employment injury, and survivor’s benefit. By the report of Rodgers, 2001 ILO estimated that only 10% of the total migrant workers get adequate social security and others still suffer from abuse.

After the growing globalization, workers are found very casual and that is the main reason for the struggle behind labor rights and their dignity. In 1997, Singh’s report was formulated which observed that almost no developing country has any bilateral agreement nor they have national legislation for the security of migrant workers and due to this, migrant workers don’t have any social security in the country in which they migrated in search of work.

Most of the migrant workers even don’t have any right to shelter, drinking water, and any toilet facilities. This view was changed by the factories act 1948 which made an obligation on the employer to provide their workers basic services like latrines facilities, potable water, bathing, and urinal for all workers, irrespective of their nationality.

The condition of migrant woman workers is worst than man and this constitutes the reason behind less rate of participation of women in the workforce. Approximately 96% of the women are engaged in the unorganized sector or informal sector which is unhygienic; low waged, lacks union, and has inhuman working conditions.

Due to these conditions, in 1997 ILO introduced a convention for protecting women workers from sexual harassment at the workplace which was accepted by the government of India but the stated convention was threatened by growing marginalization and actualization. By the various reports such as Acharya 1987, Sardamoni 1995, Teerink 1995, it was established that women workers are mainly abused when migrated.

Change In Labor Codes Of Migrant Workers After 2019, 2020 Code:

It is generally believed that the labor code is absolutely in favor of the working class and it is the weapon for redistributing rights to all classes.

Before 2019, there were 29 labor codes on the different subject matter but in 2019 they all were repealed and formulated into four codes which are The Code on Industrial Relations, 2020; The Code on Social Security, 2020; The Code on Wages, 2019; and The Code on Occupational Safety, Health, and Working Conditions, 2020 (OSH Code), where The Code on Wages came into effect in 2019 and rest came in 2020. Earlier, there was no law applicable on the unorganized sector but the government intended to include the workers working in the unorganized sector by formulating a new code of 2019 as 96% of the workers work in the unorganized sector who don’t even provide basic rights.

Till now we are following ISMA 1976[4] for the migrant worker as the new code OSH, code 2020 has not been notified to be in force yet. Recently Supreme Court directed the government to supply necessities items to migrant workers like community kitchen and follow the ‘one nation one ration card rule’ by asking them to implement ISMA 1976 efficiently.

Earlier there was very less strictness in law and the regulation of the workers was so informal and casual but now this scenario is changed by four codes that introduced the concept of fixed labor and the contract labor concepts which are mandatory to follow.

It was highlighted that majority of the migrant workers are located in the informal sector which lacks regulation and structure and hence deprived the labor of all the facilities. Inter-State Migrant Workmen (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 1979 (‘ISMA’), is the first regulation which objects to provide protection end entitlements to migrant labor and now it is merged with The Code on Occupational Safety, Health, and Working Conditions, 2020. Apart from ISMA 1979, this code (OSH 2020) pertains to the Factories Act, 1948 and other contract labor laws such as the Contract Labor (Abolition and Regulation) Act, 1970 (CLA) and Construction Workers (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 1996. It is noted that migrant workers are generally hired as contract laborers and hence their rights are mentioned under OSH 2020.

Policymakers need to take a practical approach towards the protection of the rights of the migrant laborers as their social situation is already difficult. Covid-19 outbreak underlined the grave inadequacies in the policy of Disaster Management constructed by the Government of India.

In this manner it very well may be inferred that there exist inconsistencies in India’s pandemic and crisis replication techniques that should be examined critically. The technique, which builds the incorporation of all parts of the intramural migrants’ local area in the public eye, particularly kids and ladies, ought to be more empathetic.

It is withal suggested that in advance of presenting any enactment that could affect the existence of the majority, the public should be taken into certainty. Central to turn away unexpected strategy choices can influence the existences of huge masses. Apprehension on the need to focus on inner movement in policymaking moreover should be increased. In Indian culture, there is a further need to modify the disparaging discernment framed on the migrant workers.

It’s undeniably true that most nations have adopted a lazy strategy towards the ILO norms for transient workers/laborers. Apparently nations should consolidate authoritative systems as per the ILO guidelines; in any case, most have neglected to do as such. The work laws in India actually have far to go.

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