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Government Mandates Unique Identifier for All Building and Construction Workers Nationwide: Arti Ahuja, Secretary (L&E), Union Ministry of Labour & Employment

Nov 29, 2023

An addendum to this effect to be released shortly: Arti Ahuja 

New Delhi, November 29, 2023: Addressing the "The Migration Conclave", organised by the All India Organisation of Employers (AIOE) and FICCI with the support of the International Labour Organization (ILO)Ms Arti Ahuja, Secretary (L&E), Union Ministry of Labour & Employment, announced the mandatory assignment of a unique identifier for all building and construction workers in India to ensure that migrant workers' rights are preserved, irrespective of their location. 

This identifier, linked to the Aadhaar system and integrated into the eShram database, will facilitate the portability of benefits. It doesn't matter if anyone is in Delhi today or Bombay tomorrow; the family's entitlements should remain accessible, the labour secretary explained.  

The upcoming addendum, expected to be released within the next week, will further elaborate on these reforms. 

Ms Ahuja also addressed the challenges posed by the increasing use of unregistered outsourced labour through contractors. The four labour codes will require contractors to provide comprehensive benefits to these workers, aligning with the provisions of the Interstate Migrant Workmen Act. These include minimum wages, occupational safety, and access to basic amenities like toilets and worksite creches. 

The Secretary also touched upon the need for dignity and basic facilities for workers who seek employment at labour chowks. The ministry plans to implement measures ensuring adequate shelter, sanitation, and awareness of entitlements at these locations. She also emphasised the importance of a tripartite mechanism involving workers' organisations to address specific concerns of migrant workers within industries.  

On occasion, Mr. Satoshi Sasaki, Deputy Director of the International Labour Organization (ILO), underscored the significance of labour migration in the current and future labour market. He highlighted the opportunities and challenges migrant workers face, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic's impact on decent work access. He informed that AIOE and ILO have initiated the Labour Migration Coalition for Social Dialogue in Kerala, Gujarat, and Maharashtra to enhance communication and support for migrant workers.  

Mr Arvind Francis, Executive Director of AIOE, detailed the pivotal study conducted by the AIOE with ILO's support, focusing on three critical aspects of internal migration: manpower requirements, building trust, and reintegration of migrants in their states of origin. This study, predominantly covering the construction sector and focusing on low and semi-skilled blue-collar workers, revealed significant insights. Notably, it highlighted the low labour force participation rate of women migrants, underscoring the urgent need for enhanced engagement and capacity building to facilitate safe migration for women and other vulnerable groups. The study also emphasised the importance of fostering trust and social dialogue, laying a strong foundation for advancing the migration policy debate with policymakers. 

He noted that the AIOE, supported by the ILO, initiated the establishment of a Migration Coalition for Social Dialogue, selecting Rajasthan, Gujarat, and Kerala for focused efforts. This coalition aimed to galvanise initiatives engaging workers, organisations, and government institutions in migration-related issues. The approach extended beyond the traditional tripartite setup, including NGOs, civil societies, and other stakeholders, to foster mutual trust and understanding. The first state-level consultations, completed this month, will be an ongoing effort to promote social dialogue in these states. 

Ms. Veena Swarup, Chairperson and former Director of HR at Engineers India, spoke on the critical issue of job creation in the context of India's rich demographic dividend. She underscored the pervasive reality of migration for work in rural India, a trend that has intensified over the years with the push to boost economic activities. 

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