India’s estimated 100 million migrants were among the hardest hit when the hard lockdown was imposed between last March and June
Ramlal Singh, a migrant worker, took a flight to return to Bengaluru on August 8 after his employer arranged his ticket. He looked forward to re-joining work at a private firm as the Covid-19 pandemic and the lockdown imposed to check its spread had forced Singh to return home in Jharkhand and left him without any source of income. A month later, Singh was shocked to learn that his employer’s generosity came at a price. The employer deducted ₹3,000 from his ₹10,000 salary as airfare reimbursement.
Singh’s case is not isolated. The Jharkhand government’s labour department has prepared a report highlighting the plight of migrant workers like him who faced similar deductions–between ₹3,000 to ₹10,700–from their meagre salaries. HT has reviewed a draft of the report submitted to the Centre’s policy think tank Niti Aayog.
Employers flying back migrant workers to return to work hit the headlines when economic activity restarted after the easing of the lockdown in the summer of 2020. India’s estimated 100 million migrants were among the hardest hit when the hard lockdown was imposed between last March and June. The lockdown triggered an exodus of hundreds of thousands of migrant workers from cities. A large number of them walked, cycled, and hitchhiked to return to their homes before special trains and buses were arranged for them. As many as 900,000 migrant workers returned to Jharkhand alone between March and July.