Why the Supreme Court order on registration of migrant workers is welcome

Around 93% of the workers in the unorganised sector have no access to various welfare schemes of the government. The primary reason is the delay in the registration of workers in the national database of the Ministry of Labour and Employment.

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The labours and workers needs to be registered within the following three laws:
1)  The 1979 Interstate Migrant Workmen Act,
2)  The 1996 Building and Other Construction Workers Act
3)  The 2008 Unorganised Sector Social Security Act,

The Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution has been ordered to allocat additional food grains to the states for disbursement of dry foodgrains to migrant workers under the One Nation One Ration Card scheme under the National Food Security Act.

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  1. The rollout of this system requires beneficiaries to possess a ration card, an Aadhaar number, and electronic points of sale (ePoS) in ration shops.
  2. Employers and contractors collude to keep workers in perpetual precarity to protect themselves against losses caused by shocks such as Covid.
  3. Control over workers belonging to marginalised communities is exercised through class, caste and gender hierarchies.
  4. Migrants experience a variety of problems with registration ranging from digital illiteracy, corruption, bureaucratic inefficiency and the requirement of multiple documents (even where only Aadhaar would suffice).
  5. The situation also worsens because of the barriers within the labour department, including a lack of guidelines on procedures related to registration, and delays in uploading data submitted in hard copy on the portal as it cannot be directly updated by others.
  6. Moreover, labour departments are seriously short of staff and capacity to carry out the Supreme Court order.