Prayas together with International Labor Organization Country Office and Aga Khan Foundation organized a national consultation on linking brick kiln workers with public services at New Delhi on27th July 2012. The objective of the consultation was to develop protocols that would lead to linkage of millions of brick kiln workers with public services.
Brick kiln workers constitute the largest seasonal migration stream in India. Millions of workers from some of the poorest communities in remote pockets of the country leave their homes with their families towards the end of the monsoon and migrate long distances to work in brick kilns for six months or more. Starting with an advance, working for more than 12 hours a day under a piece rate system at very low wages, most workers can be classed as bonded. Each brick kiln is like a village with resident families. The workers and their families do not have access to public services like education, Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS), health, and ration through the Public Distribution System (PDS). However, policy framework exists to ensure access of the first three services to all migrant workers. But in the absence of any documentation, service departments in destination areas do not plan and budget for this large group of workers and accompanying families in their service areas. The national consultation was organized to bridge this gap.
The workshop was inaugurated by the Director General Labor Welfare Mr. Anil Swaroop. It was attended by senior government functionaries, civil society groups including trade unions and NGOs and employers’ representatives. Amongst the senior Government functionaries who attended included Mr. K Desiraju, additional secretary Health Administration Government of India, Mr. Ashok Sahu, Principal Advisor Planning Commission, and Labor Commissioners form the state of Odisha, Jharkhand, and UP. There were representatives from the Labor Departments of states of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, and Rajasthan. Representatives of Education, ICDS, and Health departments also attended the meeting. Director South Asia ILO and CEO of Aga Khan Foundation were also present.
During the workshop, experiences of successful initiatives facilitating linkages of brick kiln migrants with basic services provided by public agencies (in source and destination areas) were shared. There was a demonstration of the software developed by PRAYAS to gather information on brick kiln migrants and using the information to provide better access to services to the target group.
Dr. Shantha Sinha, the chairperson of National Commission for Protection of Child Rights was the chief guest in the closing ceremony. Presiding over the valedictory, she pointed out the need to ensure proper schooling as provided for under the Right To Education Act and do away with temporary, makeshift schools. She also pointed out the need to add water and sanitation to the existing entitlements. The workshop is expected to lead to development of protocols to ensure better linkage of services.
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