Migration Narratives: The SHRAM Blog

Migrant labourers rescued in Telangana: A case for source-destination linkages

Coordinated efforts on the part of SHRAM Partners Yugantar and DSS, and Human Rights Law Network and the Labour Department of Telangana resulted in speedy action towards the rescue of seventeen migrant labourers. Source-destination linkages and coordination played a vital role in enabling this effort. 

Yugantar, HRLN, Action Aid and Labour Department recently successfully rescued 17 migrants stranded in a construction site in Adibhatla Village, Telangana. These labourers, who originally hailed from Ganjam district, migrated to Adibhatla in search of work. They had been promised by a contractor that they would be paid Rs. 500 per day along with accommodation, and would receive further payment on an hourly basis for working overtime.

However relations deteriorated between the laborers and the contractor, and the contractor refused to pay them the promised amount and threatened them with severe consequences.

Kedarji from DSS (Odisha) wrote to Yugantar (Telangana) to inform them that 17 migrants from Odisha were trapped at a construction site in Telangana, and requested them to look into the issue. Upon preliminary inquiry, they found that documents were necessary to support these claims—which even DSS was not in possession of, as their information was based on reports on social media. Soon, with the intervention of the Centre for Migration and Labour Studies, copies of the complaint made by relatives of the laborers to block-level officials were obtained by DSS, and passed on to Yugantar.

After much deliberation, Yugantar approached HRLN and Action Aid for assistance. On June 1st, 2015, a fact-finding team was formed with members from Yugantar, Action Aid and HRLN, which visited the site to probe further. On June 3rd the Yugantar team travelled to Adibhatla to visit the construction site where the laborers had been staying.

Their situation at the work site was dismal. The construction site appeared to be decent in general; however these migrants from Odisha did not have any basic facilities at the construction site, unlike their counterparts from Rajasthan, Bihar, UP and Maharashtra. These Odisha migrants’ rift with the contractor had left them devoid of basic facilities.

Yugantar made detailed inquiries, and found that they migrated here upon information provided to them by a friend of theirs. They were promised a daily wage of Rs. 500, with overtime on an hourly basis along with decent accommodation for doing skilled work such as welding, fitting, etc. Initially, around seven thousand rupees was paid to the laborers (total amount) as a food allowance. Later, the contractor refused to pay them any money and continued to use their services.

They were promised a daily wage of Rs. 500, with overtime on an hourly basis. Later, the contractor refused to pay them any money and continued to use their services.

Two of the laborers dared to question this arrangement, and had to face the ire of the contractor. The contractor denied them any further jobs, and told them to leave. However, the other 15 men stood up for them and informed the contractor that they would stick together and would come to work only if due payments are made.

On 17th May, the contractor informed the laborers that he has removed them from their jobs and asked them to vacate the place. He even threatened them with severe consequences if he were to hear of any protests.

 The contractor with the support of local police threatened the laborers. The Sub-Inspector of Adibhatla Station implied that they were powerless; as they were migrants from another state.

On 18th May, 2015, the contractor with the support of local police threatened the laborers. The Sub-Inspector of Adibhatla Station made the laborers sit at the police station for around 6 hours. He implied that they were powerless; as they were migrants from another state. They were made to sign on empty white sheets and then sent back.

After multiple threats from the contractor, the laborers informed their family members in the village, who then complained to revenue officials of the block and also filed a written complaint. The family members spread the word and in this manner, the case came to the attention of DSS.

The immediate requirement for the migrants was provisions for food as they did not have any basic provisions and were left with no money. Yugantar decided to provide them food along with financial assistance to meet their immediate and basic needs, until they were paid their salaries and could return to their villages. Md Akram of Yugantar left to the work site with some food and money for the laborers on the same day, and in the meanwhile, Greeshma and Grancy spoke to the Commissioner of Labour, filed a formal written complaint addressing to the Commissioner explaining the situation.

The Commissioner responded positively and instructed the Deputy Commissioner to form a team, visit Adibhatla and help the laborers. The Labour Department formed a team and visited the spot on 4th June and spoke to the laborers, listened to their grievances and also spoke to the contractor. The contractor complained that the laborers do not come to work regularly and demand extra pay despite the work not being completed. Denying the accusations, the laborers explained their situation to the team in detail and also informed the team that they are more concerned about their salaries than filing a case against the contractor, and therefore requested the department to ensure that their salaries which are due be paid immediately.

Upon deliberations made by the department, the contractor agreed to pay their full salaries along with travel expenses to their villages. The Labour Department ensured that a fine (informal) of 10% on the total amount was collected from the contractor, and handed over to the labourers. Finally, on 5th June, 2015, the laborers left with cheerful smiles and their salaries and travel expenses to Odisha.

This was a collective victory for all the organizations and individuals involved; who work to ensure that the migrant laborers are paid adequately, provided with decent living and working conditions, and are protected from the clutches of contractors and companies who detain them illegally. The network and coordination between various source and destination organisations enabled speedy intervention.

Radhika M. Chakraborty

Radhika M. Chakraborty

Radhika M Chakraborty has completed a degree in English Literature from Delhi University and a Master's degree in Women's Studies from the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai. Her research interests include gender and migration, diasporas, Partition, internal displacement and Sindhi culture.
Radhika M. Chakraborty

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One Response to “Migrant labourers rescued in Telangana: A case for source-destination linkages”

  1. Dear Radhikaji,
    It was an exellent coordinated effort by DSS,Yugantaar, CLMS and supported by HLMS and action Aid on the site. In order to reduce the vulnerability of migrant workers at work place, such coordinated efforts are required from different non profit organisations. Tata trust supported over 30 organisations are working on migration issues and they are spread all over India. CLMS and SHRAH have supported the initiatives through their visibility and advocacy efforts. But still miles to go in linking the source and destination.

    thanks for publishing the post.


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