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Most migrant workers in misery, says pre-Covid study

Deccan Herald, India, 3 July 2020 - Three months before the Covid-19 outbreak, a state-wide sample survey of construction workers had clearly established that 77% owned no land or were small and marginal farmers. Irregular income from agriculture forced them to migrate to cities for work, a fact dramatically exposed by the crisis.

The survey was part of a comprehensive study by Dr Y Narayana Chetty, retired Bangalore University professor and director, Alampally Chair on Labour Research. Covering 1,800 workers spread across 14 districts. the sample survey was completed in August 2019.

The findings also revealed that 80% of the respondents were not part of any labour union, and 12.4% were even terrified of any union. They had to rely on contractors and make do with low wages that were often delayed.

The pandemic and a hastily announced lockdown had triggered a massive, nationwide migrant crisis. The shutdown of interstate trains and buses had forced thousands to walk back, triggering deaths and misery. That the migrants were already in a precarious situation was brought out tellingly by the survey.



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