On 23 December 2020, the Malayalam version of the VMFT publication “Voice, Visibility and Dignity – Towards a Rights-Based Framework for Migrants” and its Malayalam version ‘ Arinjum, aduthum, anthassode’ were released by Shri T.P. Ramakrishnan, Minister for Labour and Excise in the Government of Kerala in his office. Shri A.K. Suhair, Chairperson of VMFT, and Dr. Kayamkulam Yoonus, Secretary of VMFT attended the function.
Lakhs of inter-state migrants were forced to walk home from the big cities of India during the COVID-19 national lockdown, as they lost their jobs and accommodation. In contrast, the Kerala government and society provided basic shelter, food and healthcare to the migrant workers, while those who wished to return to their home state were offered safe transport. As these workers return to work in Kerala and other states, it is imperative to act to provide greater social security and legal protections.
The publication summarizes the discussions and recommendations of the virtual roundtable organized by VMFT, with academics, NGOs, journalists, and government officials from different states, to share the experiences of Kerala in protecting inter-state migrants and how to bring about improvements in policies and laws.
The Minister emphasized that the interventions undertaken before COVID-19 enabled the government to respond swiftly. As the report highlights, many policies need to be improved in Kerala with respect to this group of workers who represent a significant section of the labour force. The VMFT representatives reiterated the determination of the Trust to continue further studies that can help to strengthen policies and programs, publicize the situation of migrant workers and share the positive experiences of Kerala with people in other states.