Union Labour and Employment Minister Santosh Gangwar said that “the Union Government has taken a number of unprecedented steps for labour welfare and employment including for migrant workers across India during COVID-19 pandemic. Elaborating it, he said :
➢Labour is in the concurrent list, and therefore, both State and Central Governments can legislate on the issues. Further, most of the Central Labour Acts, including the Migrant Labour Act is being implemented exclusively by the State Government.
➢As per the provisions of the Migrant Labour Act, the registration of the migrant workers is to be done by the respective State Governments, and the data has to be maintained by the State Governments. However, in the unprecedented scenario of COVID-19, Ministry of Labour & Employment took the initiatives to collect the data of migrant workers. They are going to their Home States during the lockdown. Based on information collected from various State Governments, around one crore migrant workers have gone back to their source State during COVID-19. Labour Minister further added that Various initiatives taken for the welfare of Migrant Workers during the lockdown.
➢Immediately after the lockdown, directions were sent from Ministry of Labour & Employment to all the State Governments/UTs instructing them to provide financial assistance to construction workers from Building & Other Construction Workers’ Cess Fund. It is estimated that the highest proportion of migrant workers are construction workers. Till date, about two crore migrant workers have been provided Rs. 5000.00 crores directly in their bank accounts from Building & Other Construction Workers’ Cess Fund being maintained by various States.
➢To resolve the grievances of migrant workers during the lockdown, Ministry of Labour & Employment had set up 20 Control Rooms all over the country. During the lockdown, more than 15000 complaints of the workers were resolved through these Control Rooms and due to the intervention of Ministry of Labour & Employment more than two lakh workers were paid their due wages amounting to about Rs. 295 crores.
➢After the lockdown, Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana with a financial package of Rs. 1.7 lakh crore was launched to help poor, needy and unorganised sector workers of the country. Under this package, 80.00 crore people have been provided 5 Kg. Wheat/Rice and 1 Kg. Pulses. Free of cost food grains will now be supplied up to November 2020 to all the beneficiaries. Aim of the Government is to ensure that no one is without food during this pandemic and challenging time.
➢Per day wages under MGNAREGA have been enhanced from Rs. 182 to Rs. 202.
➢Government has also announced the measures to strengthen Infrastructure Logistics, Capacity Building, Governance and Administrative Reforms for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food Processing Sectors.
➢Santosh Gangwar further informed that Government of India had launched PM SVANidhi Scheme to facilitate collateral-free working capital loan up to Rs.10,000/- of one-year tenure, to approximately, 50 lakh street vendors, to resume their businesses.
➢To facilitate the employment of migrant workers who have gone back to their Home State, Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Rojgar Abhiyan has been initiated in 116 districts in Mission Mode. Under this campaign, rural infrastructure would be built with the involvement of these migrant workers and about Rs. 50,000/- crores would be spent for this purpose. In a similar manner, many projects involving migrant workers have been initiated for the building of roads, Highways etc. by the Transport Ministry to facilitate the employment of migrant workers.
➢Twenty lakh crore financial package under Aatm Nirbhar Bharat has been launched specifically to create employment opportunities, for migrant workers, workers of the unorganised sector, strengthening of MSME Sector and promoting the rural economy. It includes a plethora of initiatives for all these sectors.
➢To provide minimum financial assistance to the workers through their EPF Account, Ministry of Labour & Employment under Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana has permitted all the EPF members to withdraw 75% of their total provident fund deposited in their EPF Account. Till date, about Rs. The member of EPFO has withdrawn 39,000/- crore.
➢To facilitate migrant workers who are returning to the Destination State for work, Ministry of Labour & Employment has issued Advisory Guidelines for all the State Governments/UTs on 27th July 2020. Under these guidelines, States/UTs have been directed to nominate a State Level Nodal Officer to coordinate the implementation of various measures for the welfare of migrant workers who are coming back for employment. Further, the State of Origin and Destination State will also coordinate for screening and testing of migrant workers as per the protocol devised by the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare. States have also been directed to prepare a good database of migrant workers for their easy identification and welfare measures among them. This data would also facilitate in enrolling them to various Social Security Schemes of Government of India.