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Migrants must not bear cost of Covid: Centre to states

By Somesh Jha
September 12, 2020 14:17 IST
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Labour ministry guidelines say workers returning to cities must get housing, health insurance, facemasks.
The Centre has also asked states to issue guidelines to employers to take care of the needs of migrant workers.
Somesh Jha reports.

 

IMAGE: A daily wage migrant labourer runs with his son as he and other labourers are chased away by the police, according to who they had gathered for day work and were not following Covid-19 social distancing, in Ahmedabad. Photograph: Amit Dave/Reuters

The central government has asked states to ensure essential needs of migrant workers coming back to cities are taken care of, including free Covid-19 testing, housing facilities, and health insurance coverage.

States have been advised to ensure periodical medical examination of migrant workers.

They have also been asked to ensure their children are enrolled in schools where they are staying 'to prevent adverse effects on education'.

'Migrant workers should not face any financial burden on account of testing or any treatment/quarantine required to be undertaken by them,' the advisory guidelines by the labour and employment ministry said.

'A proper database of migrant workers is a preliminary step in order to identify and protect vulnerability among them… This data should also be shared with the concerned labour authorities to facilitate compliance with existing labour laws relating to wages, occupational safety and health and working conditions,' the guidelines said.

States have also been advised to enrol eligible migrant workers under the Ayushman Bharat scheme to provide them health insurance cover of Rs 5 lakh per family a year for secondary and tertiary care hospitalisation.

For construction workers who migrate, states have been advised to incur expenditure towards payment of premium for state insurance schemes.

The Building and Other Construction Workers' welfare funds can be utilised for this purpose, the government has said.

The Centre has asked states to issue guidelines to employers to take care of the needs of migrant workers.

Apart from adequate availability of sanitisers, face masks, soaps at the workplace, 'employers should also be encouraged to provide one-time transportation allowance/journey fare to migrant workers'.

'Employers should also be encouraged to provide wages according to prevailing labour laws; facilitate provision for suitable housing arrangement, and ensure enrolment of the migrant workmen in existing social security and welfare schemes,' the ministry said.

States have been asked to provide an online single-window grievance redressal system, including a toll-free helpline number to assist the migrant workers in distress.

After the national lockdown in March, an estimated 500,000-600,000 workers had to walk back home on foot.

According to one official estimate, around 8 million workers have migrated back to work after lockdown restrictions were eased.

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Somesh Jha in New Delhi
Source: source
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