Kozhikode

As pandemic scare wanes, migrants return to work

Migrant workers at a medical camp in Kozhikode in this file photo. In view of the COVID-19 protocol, contractors are arranging conveyance for migrants to return to the State.   | Photo Credit: FILE PHOTO

With declining COVID-19 scare and opportunities in the construction sector picking up, the return of migrant labourers to Kerala is seemingly on a steady rise.

Contractors said they were happy with the trend, as it would help the early completion of various pending projects.

Local labour camps in north Kerala are almost full now. With hotels reopening, several migrants are back at work. Interestingly, new labourers are also joining work sites.

S.N. Abhijith, a road contractor, said a majority of pending projects had resumed with the return of labourers from States like Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, and West Bengal. “When native labourers demand wage hike citing shortage of hands and safety issues, migrant workers are happy with the current wages,” he added.

Considering the COVID-19 protocol and improved vigil, several work contractors are making their own arrangements to facilitate safe travel by migrant labourers. They have been hiring luxury buses for the purpose owing to unavailability of train services.

At the same time, those who returned to harbours for work are a seemingly disgruntled lot owing to declining catch and steep fall in revenue. Boat owners said many labourers were now returning to their native States thanks to the looming crisis in the sector.

“Following the COVID-19 outbreak, fishermen are in dire straits. Poor catch has forced several boat owners to cut short trips as well as the number of labourers,” said Karichal Preman, vice president, All Kerala Fishing Boat Owners Association. A majority of such workers are from Odisha and Andhra Pradesh, and they do not have the skills for other vocations,” he added.

For the record, large-scale exodus of migrant workers due to the pandemic had virtually stalled the construction sector and the fishing industry. According to the Labour Department, around three lakh migrant workers had returned home following the lockdown. Nearly 50% of them came back, officials said.

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Printable version | Mar 6, 2021 4:34:49 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/kozhikode/as-pandemic-scare-wanes-migrants-return-to-work/article33603895.ece

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