Innovative Tools for Migrant Workers
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. Together with the Society for Labour and Development (SLD), RLS supports migrant workers in asserting their rights.
SLD is part of the Interstate Migration Alliance (IMA). They aim to approach workers even before they leave their places of origin and inform them about their legal rights and access to justice in case of abuse at the workplace. In a successfully completed project, SLD and RLS have developed an interactive multimedia training tool on labour rights. It provides easily accessible information on practical issues like workers’ 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. Workers can download these training tools on their private electronic devices and share it easily with their colleagues everywhere.
This tool is used at various Migrant Rights Centres that IMA has set up in Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi, the National Capital Region. The centres assure informed migration by giving the workers a realistic notion of the working conditions in their intended destination and of the challenges they are likely to face.
Another multimedia tool initiated by SLD in collaboration with HELM is Lockstitch Lives – Migrants in the Megacity. This 360-degrees interactive documentary introduces the neighborhoods of Gurgaon, the industrial hub of the capital region, where many migrant workers employed in garment and domestic work sector live. It provides deep insight into living and working conditions and the challenges associated with exclusionary urbanisation to life.
The development of these tools was based on the research conducted by SLD on the underlying issues and reasons for inter-state migration. 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. To counteract these problems, SLD organises trainings for activists and local community organisers 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.
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.