“When people don’t have any opportunities for work where they are and come to another place looking for work, the question before us, is whether we are doing enough to make them feel safe and protected,” said DMK MP Kanimozhi.
Ms. Kanimozhi was speaking at the inaugural session of a multi-stakeholders consultation, on strengthening mechanisms for safe migration, organised by the Tamil Nadu Alliance and Tamil Nadu Domestic Workers Welfare Trust, at the State Human Rights Commission in Chennai on Saturday.
“There are several concerns migrant workers have when they move in search of work: about the language, living conditions, and culture in the new place and how they will fit in. Irrespective of where they are coming from, they should be safeguarded and treated like human beings,” she said.
While there might be laws that can be implemented to safeguard migrant workers, Ms. Kanimozhi said that this would not be possible unless nationally, as well as in each State, records of how many migrant workers there were, as well as those employing them were maintained. “The State is working towards protecting the interests of workers here as well as those who go abroad. Among schemes that the Tamil Nadu government has implemented for their benefit, it was recently announced that migrant workers in Tamil Nadu will be covered under the Makkalai Thedi Maruthuvam scheme. The laws to safeguard workers should also be updated, to be in tune with jobs that people come in search of at present, and the exploitation they might be subject to,” she said.
Justice S. Baskaran, chairperson, State Human Rights Commission Tamil Nadu said that recently, the State was witness to how migrant workers were impacted when fake news was spread and caused panic. “This will also have a lasting, large-scale economic impact if large sections of workers are affected,” he said.
DMK MP Kalanidhi Veerasamy spoke about the various initiatives put in place by the Tamil Nadu government to help migrant workers from Tamil Nadu, working abroad.
Stating that bilateral agreements between countries would help safeguard migrant workers from the time the recruitment process begins and will protect them against abuse, Sr. Valarmathi, chief functionary, Tamil Nadu Domestic Workers Welfare Trust, further called for sustained campaigns on safe migration practices and legal protection which will make workers aware of how they can seek assistance in times of need.