THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: After leaving the migrant workers to fend for themselves in the initial phase of the lockdown, employers in Kerala are now trying to forcibly prevent them from returning home. The job providers are resorting to measures like withholding ID cards and personal belongings as well as non-payment of wages. In the latest incident, around 10 migrant workers from Odisha, who were allegedly forcibly detained by the employer in Malappuram district, were released after a video shot by the labourers made its way to the chief secretary.
It showed the workers of Lulookkas Sand, a product of Friends’ Crushers at Valillapuzha, pleading with the authorities to save them from their employer. The video was received by the Centre for Migration and Inclusive Development (CMID) which sought the intervention of the chief minister and the chief secretary to release them from the custody of the employer. In a swift move, the labour commissioner intervened in the matter and freed them from custody.
The labourers were then taken to Palakkad to catch an overnight train to Odisha after the department had made all arrangements for their safe departure, said the office of the labour commissioner. When TNIE contacted the private crusher, its representatives remained in denial about detaining the workers. Instead, the company claimed the labourers had asked them to stay back till their papers were ready. A similar incident has come to light in Ernakulam in which the papers of four workers from West Bengal were held back to prevent them from returning home. They were also allegedly beaten up by the employer when they tried to escape.
Action sought against forced detention
CMID Executive Director Benoy Peter sought strict action against those forcibly detaining workers desperate to return home. “The industries are facing a shortage of workers and desperate to retain the available ones. Instances of forced detention in which the employers are not allowing the workers to return home have come to light. Strategies such as non-payment of wages, refusal to return original identity cards (Aadhaar/Voter Identity Card, etc), other belongings or curtailing freedom of movement or using physical violence have been observed. These actions can dent the state’s image,” he said in a letter to the chief minister. Further, he said rumours are being spread to create panic among migrant workers.
TORRID TIMES Around 10 migrant workers from Odisha were released after a video shot by the labourers reached chief secy .Centre for Migration and Inclusive Development has sought action against those forcibly detaining workers desperate to return home.