Kerala migrant workers remitting Rs 750 crore to native states

The total number of migrant workers in Kerala is estimated to be 31.4 lakh
Last Updated : 22 September 2021, 14:03 IST

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Despite facing discrimination in wages, the migrant workers in Kerala are estimated to be remitting Rs. 750 crore annually from Kerala to their native states.

The total number of migrant workers in Kerala is estimated to be 31.4 lakh, which constitutes 26 per cent of Kerala's total workforce, says a study sponsored by the Kerala State Planning Board.

The study conducted by assistant professor of Department of Economic Studies of Central University of Punjab Jajati Keshari Parida and State Planning Board member K Raviraman also highlights the need to offer better social security and living conditions to migrant workers as they play a key role in the urbanisation of Kerala.

According to the study, migrant workers, despite facing discrimination in wages, are happy. While the average monthly earning of a migrant worker in Kerala was estimated to be around Rs. 16,000, on average, migrants were earning Rs. 3,500 less than their native counterparts. But the migrants were happy as the earning from Kerala was much higher than their earnings in native states.

Meanwhile, the low wage was one reason why employers in Kerala prefer migrant workers to native workers. Lack of absenteeism and keeping off from strikes were the other positive sides of migrant workers being seen by employers.

The estimation that 31.4 lakh migrant workers are present in Kerala assumed much significance as the finding of another study in 2013 that there were 25 lakh migrant workers in Kerala was highly questioned. Even the enrolment in the Awaz Health Insurance Scheme of the Kerala government for migrant workers was only 13 per cent when considering this estimated migrant population. The fresh study also projected that the migrant population of Kerala would increase to 45 lakh by 2025 and 55 lakh by 2030.

Raviraman told DH that even as a good number of migrants from Kerala returned to their native places during Covid, they would certainly return to Kerala owing to the positive factors like higher wages here.

The study also brought to light the poor living condition of migrants workers in Kerala, who are mainly from states like West Bengal, Assam, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Odisha and Jharkhand. About 96 per cent of the migrant workers were living on sharing basis while about 39 per cent live in temporary kachha houses. About 93 per cent of them were using toilets on sharing basis.

Highlighting the requirement of migrant workers for the urban development of Kerala, the study recommended that wage rates for migrant workers should be fixed above the minimum wage level of other origin states and provision of social insurance should be given to them.

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Published 22 September 2021, 14:03 IST

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