Physical assault, psychological and verbal abuse, exploitation at work sites and absence of health insurance are among the major issues faced by inter-State migrants involved in the manufacturing sector across Chennai, Kancheepuram and Tiruvallur districts, a recent survey has found.
The survey was conducted by the Loyola Institute of Social Science Training and Research (LISSTAR) of the Loyola College and the Indian Social Institute (ISI), Bengaluru, with a sample size of 730 in the three districts.
“There is this perception that inter-State migrant workers are mostly in the construction sector because it is visible. But this survey shows that the manufacturing sector has a substantial proportion of migrant workers from other States and the hardships they are facing,” said Bernard D’ Sami of LISSTAR, one of those who studied the data.
Rural agricultural distress was the major push factor for the migration of these workers, and 90.8% of the respondents were from rural agrarian backgrounds, while 96.7% had migrated to enhance family economy, the study said.
About 85% of the respondents were from six States — Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Odisha, Assam, West Bengal and Jharkhand — and 65.7% of them had passed Class X.
Housing was a major problem for the migrants, as the study revealed deplorable living and working conditions of the labourers. Around 28.5% of respondents were living in temporary shelters with tin sheets, and 29.2% were living in congested dormitories with minimal facilities.
The survey recommended improvements in the working and living conditions of migrant workers under the supervision of the Labour Department. “Further, migrants should get to avail [themselves of the] right to food under PDS, the right to vote and rights to minimum wages, bonuses and equal remuneration,” one of the recommendations stated.
The survey also called for collective action from government departments and the civil society to ensure the basic rights of migrant workers in manufacturing units in Tamil Nadu. It added that trade unions, NGOs and academics should coalesce with the Labour Department to assist the migrant workers in availing themselves of various schemes and benefits meant for workers.