Poor living and working conditions of migrant workers are often left without any social security net.
By Vaishnavi Gopalraj
Despite being entitled to free healthcare facilities for the informal sector under the Rastriya Bima Yojana, many migrant workers are unaware of how to avail the service of the health card schemes.
Subhash, a migrant worker from Bihar, moved to Bengaluru two years back, works on a construction site and earns Rs 350 a day, is responsible for taking care of his mother’s medical expenses because he is unaware of the healthcare facilities available to him. “I’m not able to afford the medical expenses that come at the end of the month, often the treatment is free or I have to pay the expenses which make it difficult to meet my basic needs for the day.”
K. Shekar, Assistant commissioner of the labour department said “The department is committed to provide healthcare facilities to migrant workers and is working on spreading awareness on the state government schemes to ensure the migrant workers can access the resources they need to ensure they stay healthy and safe.”
A report released by Rastriya Bima Yojana shows that there are six lakh migrant workers in Bengaluru are registered under the health card.
A research study on migrant workers by Indian Institutes of Management (IIM), Bengaluru shows that the total population of migrant workers in the city is nearly 44 percent of the total population. However, only 15 percent of them are able to access the health care scheme provided by the state government.
According to the Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service Act, 1979 migrant workers are entitled to medical facilities.
Migrant workers who are hired under contractors to work in construction sites must be provided with health insurance and access to healthcare under the Rastriya Bima Yojana Scheme. “The contractors must take responsibility for registering their workers for the scheme and ensuring they have access to health care,” says labour rights activist Abhishek Singh.