“Even after living here for decades we cannot call it home!”-Migrant workers in Bangalore

A united movement of labour organizations and pro-people forces in needed in Karnataka for a complete workplace and citizenship rights of migrant workers.

migrant

What unites the city’s domestic workers, security guards, drivers, garment makers, construction workers and app-based service workers? One way of looking at it would be that the essential jobs that keep the metropolis running are done by interstate migrant workers from Bihar, West Bengal, Odisha, Jharkhand, Telangana and other states. Bengaluru is the second largest migrant city in India, with 44% of its population (42 lakh people) coming from different states, as per an IIM Bangalore report.

Migrant Workers Solidarity Network organised a public meeting in Shivaji Nagar  to bring together these voices. Common issues raised by workers related to the discrimination faced from police and municipal personnel, insecure employment and threat of termination and, most pressingly, major income losses faced during the two Covid-19 lockdowns. Veteran trade unionists, lawyers and social activists from across Karnataka also reiterated the demands of dignified, equal citizenship and employment for migrant workers in Bengaluru at the meeting.

An app-based worker Samir highlighted the special harassment directed towards migrants by police personnel when on the road for the job, specially when forced to do so during lockdown by the platforms. Brishti, a domestic worker living in Hebbal, asked ‘Why should we not have paid leaves when our employers enjoy May Day and Women’s Day as holidays?’ Her neighbour Kazitan recounted a successful anti-eviction movement saying, ‘They want to demolish our homes saying we’re illegal, that we live like criminals. But how will this city run without the work of us “criminals”?’

 

 

 

 

 

Veteran union leader Geeta Menon also joined the event. She highlighted that the efforts we are now seeing to create ‘insiders and outsiders’ pushes wages down for everyone. She argued that this is why the struggle of migrant workers deserves the support of Karnataka residents as well. Ravi, an activist with Karnataka Janshakti, and Priyadarshini from Domestic Workers Rights Union also expressed solidarity with this new initiative.

Also Read: Life of Bengali Migrants in Bangalore Slums

Migrant Workers

Migrant Workers Solidarity Network is a civil society initiative relying on voluntary contributions from individuals which has been engaged in relief activities during the two phases of lockdown in slums and localities across Bangalore, Delhi, Kolkata and other cities. Currently the organization is helping the workers to register in the labour ministry’s E-shram portal along with running schools for the workers’ children in different areas.

Those gathered at the meeting resolved to expand organizational activities in the city and link up with all labour organizations and pro-people forces in Karnataka for an united movement for migrant workers’ complete workplace and citizenship rights.

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June 2024
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