Kerala's efforts to protect migrant workers amid COVID crisis
Kannur: The state government has been making efforts to protect the migrant workers by providing free vaccine and treatment facilities amid the growing concerns of COVID-19. It is learned that the majority of the migrant workers who left Kerala during the last lockdown didn’t return. As this badly affected many industries including construction, the government has initiated actions to ensure the welfare of the migrant workers during the second wave of the pandemic. Call centres have been established in most of the districts with people who can speak Hindi, Assamese, Odisha and Bengali.
The labour commissionerate has given directions to the district labour officers to ensure ambulance and hospital services to migrant workers who test COVID positive.
Notices were prepared in different languages and distributed to create awareness among the workers.
Amidst this, many workers have started to return to their native places fearing a second lockdown. Tatkal tickets are not available on long-distance trains. Labour shortage is likely to hit many industries in coming days.
A total of 3,07,138 migrant workers had left the state in the last lockdown across the country. As per the records of the labour department, only 49,270 workers returned to the state.
Kannur recorded the highest number of workers leaving the district (15,303). Among the 50,315 workers who left Ernakulam, only 8,275 returned after the lockdown. The labour department added that the records are not final and more people might have returned.
As per the records of the state planning commission in 2013, around 25 lakh migrant workers are working in Kerala. An 8 per cent increase was also observed in the number of workers per year.
During the survey in the last COVID period, the labour department identified 4,34,280 migrant workers in the state. Among these workers, 3,07,138 people returned to their native places. Till September 2021, only 8,196 of them returned to Kerala.
Before the second wave, 1,76,412 workers were engaged in various jobs in the state. Now, many of them have moved back to their native states.