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NE migrant workers may not go back to work

By Ron Duarah

DIBRUGARH, April 9 - In a unique and pioneering study on the impact of migrant labour from the North East post the Covid-19 lockdown, the All India Manufacturers Organisation, (AIMO) revealed that a large number of migrant employees from the North East have expressed their insecurity and fear to return to work in places far away from their home due to the harrowing experience they faced due to the lockdown. It also indicated that a large number were still at their place of work but were eager to return to their families once the lockdown ends. This will further deplete the labour resources in the country.

This study highlights the issue from primarily the migrant labour in the North East along with apprehensions of the migrant labourers from other states also.

BP Bakshi, AIMO Zonal Vice President, East, and a noted industrial captain in the region, explained the need to address the issue of migrant labour for MSMEs. �When we spoke to MSME owners across different parts of India, we understood that apart from Capital, Labour is one of the key resources for the MSME segment . Most MSME�s use migrant labour and the economic growth in India today hinges on the MSME segment who employ over 140 million people of which migrant labour accounts for about 70 per cent of their labour. The North East today is one of the biggest contributors to the migrant labour force in the country especially in F&B, Security, Tea and Coffee Plantations, Saloons, Beauty, Wellness and Nursing, etc.�

�AIMO has made numerous suggestions to the Government of India to aid migrant workers especially from the North East in the short , medium and long term . In the short term during the lockdown phase the Central Government should ensure the back date pending salaries, adequate food and a secure shelter for them. In the medium term we request each Host state government to make a register of migrant workers who are employed there and provide them with cash incentives to enable retention of such employees in their state. Migrant employees must be made to feel welcome.� said Bakshi

The key long term solution would be to introduce a concept of Unemployment Insurance when a migrant labourer loses his job.

�The AIMO has made a plea to the Government of India to restore not just their current livelihood but also show their care for the migrant labour community. Our study has indicated that cities like Delhi , Chandigarh , Mumbai , Surat , Ahmedabad , Bengaluru , Pune , Hyderabad and even Goa will see a substantial impact due to the loss of these migrant workers in the next 6 to 9 months further endangering the business prospects of the MSME sector.� He added.

Differentiating on the AIMO approach to MSME issues, Bakshi said, �While most trade bodies have been focused on the financial impact of COVID-19 , we at AIMO have taken a holistic approach and feel that financial packages alone will not be enough to prop up the MSME sector in the near to medium term. We believe that if we take care of the people they will take care of the business interests of the MSMEs who will in turn employ more people, which in turn will make the economy grow.�

�AIMO understands the need of MSMEs across the country and AIMO is an eager partner to assist the Government to facilitate the development of MSME�s and provide last mile connectivity to the MSME community in India� he said. He also suggested adequate insurance and facilities to workers from the region, to convince them to get back to work.

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