Labour, Jobs and Employment – Harmonization of labour laws, gender gap, unemployment, etc.

Paying attention to condition of migrant workers


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Acts related to workers

Mains level : Paper 3- Migrant workers

Issue of migrant workers caught attention of the nation amid lockdown. This issue has wider implications for the economy. This article highlights need for formulating a program to deal with the migrant labourers’ issue in its entirety.

Issue with many implications: Migrant labour

  • Out of the total labour force of 465 million workers, around 91 per cent (422 million) were informal workers in 2017-18.
  • The Economic Survey (2017) estimated 139 million seasonal or circular migrants.
  • Circular urban migrants perform essential labour and provide services.
  • Hence, this issue has implications for livelihoods, agriculture, food security, and safety net policy as well as programme responses.

Existing and proposed legal provision

  • There exists The Inter-State Migrant Workmen (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act of 1979.
  • Despite this act, there is no central registry of migrant workers.
  • The Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions Code of 2019 has been introduced in Parliament.
  • This code seeks to promote the welfare of migrant workers and legal protection for their rights.
  • The code seeks to merge 13 labour laws, including the Inter-state Migrant Workmen Act, 1979 into a single law.

One nation, one ration card

  • “One nation one ration card” addresses the problem of ration-card portability.
  • The move would benefit nearly 670 million people and will be completed by March 2021.

Provisions in the package for migrant workers, small farmers, street vendors

  • There is a provision of Rs 30,000 crore through NABARD, in addition to the already existing Rs 90,000 crore allocation, for the rabi harvest and post-harvest rabi-related work for small and marginal farmers.
  • Further, Rs 2 lakh crore concessional credit will be provided to two crore farmers across the country.
  • About Rs 11,000 crore was allocated for the urban poor, which includes the migrant workers, for building shelter homes for the homeless.
  • Several government-funded housing projects in major cities would be developed into affordable rental housing complexes on a PPP mode.

Free grains for two months

  • The Centre will transfer 8 lakh metric tonnes of grain and 50,000 metric tonnes of chana to state governments.
  • Form this stave will provide 5 kg of grain (wheat or rice) per labourer and 1kg of chana per family per month for two months free.
  • This is expected to benefit up to eight crore migrant workers.

Program for growth and structural transformation

  • Devicing such a program requires a review of national legal, regulatory and institutional concerns in resettlement and rehabilitation of migrant labourers.
  • There is a need to adopt a human rights approach to address the socio-legal issues.
  • The resolution of contradictions in trade, fiscal, monetary and other policies would also require.
  • Following 3 policy changes are urgently required.
  • 1)The implementation of the report of the task force on migration (2017).
  • 2)Expansion of the outreach of the Integrated Child Development Services– to include migrant women and children.
  • 3) Inclusion of migrant children in the annual work plans of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan.
  • Given the environment of uncertain livelihoods it is necessary to strengthen the resilience of the financial system and skill workers.
  • The issues and challenges of migrant workers require leveraging information and communication technologies and the JAM trinity.

Consider the question “Migrant workers issue is an issue with many implications. This issue needs to be considered in its entirety to formulate a speedy and effective response. In light of this suggest the required policy changes.”


The debilitating physical effects of the coronavirus necessitate coordinated and concerted efforts by all stakeholders to meet the challenges of the present and the expectations of the future. We shall overcome.

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