Steps will be taken to safeguard the welfare of migrant workers in the State, said labour minister S.T. Chellapandian.

Pointing out that no data were available with the State government about migrant workers, the minister told reporters in Kancheepuram on Thursday that the government had taken a serious view of the mishap at a construction site, on the premises of an educational institution a few days ago, that resulted in the death of 10 workers. It had decided to streamline the process of compiling the data, the minister said.

He was speaking to reporters after participating in a function to distribute assistance to workers of the unorganised sector.

Meanwhile, the demand for stringent enforcement of the implementation of the Inter-State Migrant Workmen (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 1979, has risen. The law has cast several duties and obligations upon contractors. The details regarding inter-State migrant workers have to be furnished to the authorities concerned in 15 days.

A passbook affixed with a passport-sized photograph has to be issued to every inter-state migrant worker, giving details such as the name and place of the establishment where the worker is employed, the period of employment, proposed rates and mode of payment of wages and displacement allowance payable.

Making this demand, Pon Kumar, president of Tamil Nadu Farmers and Workers Party and former head of State Construction Workers Welfare Board, suggested that the government allow the registration of inter-state migrant workers with the Construction Workers Board for various welfare measures.

Though migrant workers are employed in several projects in the State, an official in the labour commissionerate said, the applicability of the 1979 law in respect of the given case would not arise as the educational institution had directly recruited inter-state migrant workers, and there was no contractor.

The law would apply only in the case of workers employed through contractors. In this case, the Building and Other Construction Workers (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 1996, would be relevant.

The process of providing compensation to legal heirs of the deceased workers under the Employees’ Compensation Act, 1923, had been initiated, the official said.

Mr Kumar said the least employers or contractors of such workers could do is to provide them with identity cards. There was enormous scope for streamlining the conditions of working of the workers, he said.

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