The domestic migrant labour population in the State has been pegged at 25 lakh, about 10 per cent of the local population. The migrant labourers are unaware of their rights and are not getting the benefits of social security schemes, Labour Minister Shibu Baby John has said.

After tabling a report on ‘Domestic Migrant Labour in Kerala’ prepared by the Gulati Institute of Finance and Taxation in the Assembly on Friday, Mr. John told reporters that with an annual arrival rate of 2.35 lakh, their total remittances to their home States through the banking channels were above Rs.17,500 crore. Over 70 per cent of them earn above Rs.300 per day and on an average, the annual remittance per person was Rs.70,000.

The study conducted by D. Narayana and C.S. Venkiteswaran of the institute with M.P. Joseph, advisor to the Labour Minister on labour reforms, shows that 75 per cent of them come from West Bengal, Bihar, Assam, Uttar Pradesh, and Orissa. The workforce consisted of almost entirely single males aged between 18 and 35 years. They mostly work under contractors and get employment for six to seven days a week. About 60 per cent of them work in the construction sector. They are also employed in the hospitality, manufacturing, trade, and agriculture sectors. Their skills range from unskilled to skilled carpenters, masons, electricians, and the like. They work for eight to 10 hours a day and are generally very dedicated and sincere in their work. There are hardly any complaints from their employers.

Asked about complaints of such labourers getting involved in criminal cases, Mr. John said that they were stray incidents and cannot be generalised. The relatively high and prompt payment had attracted them to Kerala. The housing and living conditions were abysmally poor and they often lived in crowded rooms with poor water supply and sanitation facilities at the worksites itself.

The study has proposed a common single-point one-time voluntary registration system at the behest of the Labour Department, but executed by the local bodies. The housing and living conditions need to be improved.