Challenges of Migrant Workers in North India

Retu Singh
Retu Singh presenting the report on migrant workers from Uttar Pradesh in Kanpur, 2014. (Photo: SLD)

Every year, millions of people in India leave their villages in order to find work in urban areas. Often, they belong to the most deprived and vulnerable social groups in India. Together with the Society for Labour and Development (SLD), RLS supports migrant workers in asserting their rights.

During the first phase of cooperation from 2013 to 2015, SLD conducted research on the underlying issues and reasons for inter-state migration, especially from the states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Jharkhand to Gurgaon, the industrial hub of the National Capital Region. The findings not only revealed that current laws and policies protecting workers’ rights are often inadequate, but also how different aspects like gender, caste, literacy or health intersect with the difficulties of migrant workers. 

During the second phase of the cooperation starting in 2016, SLD started to set up Migrant Resource Centres in Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh and the National Capital Region. Based on the results of the first phase,  workers get information about their legal rights and access to justice in cases of abuse at the workplace. At the resource centres in their home state, workers can also get a realistic notion of the working conditions in their intended destination and what challenges they are likely to face there. Moreover, activists and local community organizers receive training on how to document rights’ violations, how to engage effectively with employers, policy makers and the broader public and how to build up inter-state networks of grassroots-organizations.

Currently, SLD and RLS develop an interactive multimedia training tool on working rights. It provides easily accessible information on practical issues like working rights, wages, working hours, workplace violence as well as safety and health regulations. Beyond that, background information on global supply chains or the Indian labour market are included, too. Workers can get these training tools on their private electronic devices and share it easily with their colleagues everywhere.  

Our Partner

The Society for Labour and Development, founded in 2006, is a Delhi-based labour rights organisation which mainly works on issues of migrant labourers in the National Capital Region. Through a network of resource centres, SLD is closely connected with grassroots organisations in the migrant workers’ most prominent states of origin. The organisation’s aim is to empower marginalized workers through education and training programs, especially when economic deprivation intersects with factors of social discrimination like gender, religion or caste.

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