Arjun Kumar, Ritika Gupta, Sakshi Sharda, Nishi Verma, Sajili Oberoi
Keeping the migrant workers issues at center stage and recognizing the social and economic cost of COVID-19 Pandemic IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute , Working Peoples’ Charter and Indian Social Institute organized a Panel Discussion on Migrant Workers, Labour Rights, Policy: Impact and Way Forward. The talk was to engage the panelists views on concerns of social security, livelihood and the impact of Pandemic. Dr. Elina Samantroy Jena specially focussed on women and work.
Dr. Elina Samantroy Jena, Fellow (Faculty), V. V. Giri National Labour Institute (VVGNLI), Noida detailed migrant rights from the gender lens. India has been facing a decline in the labor market participation for women and the earlier employment and unemployment surveys and now the periodic labor force service hold testimony to that statement.
From 42.7 percent at around in 2004-05 now 24.5 in 2018-19 so it’s a significant decline and if you look, around 27 our female labor force is low and we experienced a 1.2 percent increase a marginal increase in 2018-19 but the challenge here is that increase was because of the self employed
Women are mostly engaged in informal work when the pandemic hit, women who work in the community, social and personal services, and retail trade, manufacturing, and construction. There was a sectoral hit on livelihood during the pandemic. There has now been an increase of 53.4 percent of women who are self-employed. There is the perineal challenge of lack of social security and lack of reach of existing labor legislation. Most of their work does not account for the national account statistics as well.
An ILO report in 2017-18 located that 79 percent of the workforce in the service industry was composed of working migrant women. The majority of these women were domestic workers who face job insecurity and exploitation. There has been no policy response to these questions of insecurity. 75 percent of females did not have any job contract and only 3 percent has contracts of only 3 years. Even among regular waged employees, 63 percent of women did not have job contracts.
The 2017- 19 report on Social protection by ILO stated that only 27 percent of the population had access to regular social protection globally. The available data is dated which is a decade old for a dynamic transition of migration. The Labor Ministry has flagged its 5 surveys under the Chandigarh Labor Bureau but this activity has just begun. During the past year, the only effort has been to collect data via an in-office communication between the Labor commissioner and Regional Labor Commissioners.
International Disease Burden
We have international Labour standards on crisis response, there have been conversations about medical facilities for migrant workers, the occupational diseases protocol is reviewing the list of diseases. There is an attempt to include COVID-19 as an occupational disease if contracted at the workplace. Rules are being framed and reviewed to incorporate the challenge of the pandemic. Many countries have made health facilities universal, institutional definitions leave behind large group of undocumented migrants.