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Thinc session examines need for jobs with dignity for migrants in urban areas, policy changes needed

The Indian Express, India, 31 August 2021 - Since the pandemic began, “migration” in India has gained a negative connotation. But the problem may not be migration itself, but the fact that large chunks of migrants come from source states or regions that are facing acute economic distress. In the destination areas, there is the problem of finding jobs with dignity, coupled with states that are politically driven to keep migrants out. It may fall on the private sector, as much as the government, to figure how to change this if India has to sustainably grow. What can be done in terms of corporate policy and labour policy to improve livelihoods?

The latest edition of Indian Express Thinc, presented by Omidyar Network India, focused on this subject, starting with thoughts from keynote speaker Meher Pudumjee, chairperson of Thermax Limited. In September last year, Thermax joined hands with like-minded corporates across Mumbai, Pune and Ahmedabad, in partnership with NGO Dasra, to launch an initiative called SoCo or Social Compact to ensure greater dignity and equity for industry-employed informal workers in India. The initiative aims at assuring certain standards for the workforce, including safety at the workplace and social security cover.

Speaking about SoCo, Pudumjee said it mainstreams the aspiration that “a responsible business is equal to a successful business”.

“SoCo aspires to address a million informal workers spread across the ecosystem of 150 companies in India. It started as a pilot phase with just 15 companies. It’s a self-driven journey by companies who are committing to ensure a set of standards for their workforce,” Pudumjee said, citing the example of health insurance, which is usually set for a minimum of one year, despite the fact that some employees stay for only six months. How can companies ensure that they get insurance for that period?



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