The government of Sikkim, in an effort to help the many migrant workers, mainly from Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Nepal , has directed their employers to pay them wages for the duration of the lockdown and has directed daily wagers’ landlords not to charge house rents for the same period.
The order was issued on Monday in the wake of reports that migrant workers had been defying the lockdown and trying to leave Sikkim for their homes in the neighbouring states. The Centre had issued a directive on Sunday, asking states to seal their borders in order to detest migrant workers from leaving their place of work.
“That the contractors/employers of such labourers (read migrant workers) shall make payment of wages of their workers at their work places on the due date without any deduction for the period their establishments are under closure during the lockdowns,” said the official Sikkim order.
The order further added: “That where such labourers are living in rented accommodation, the landlords of those properties shall not demand payment of rent for a period of one month”, while warning of legal action against those found violating the directive.
Quoting records, a senior officer of the Sikkim labour department said there were 8,113 migrant workers in the state. “It is, however, difficult to say if all of them are present in the state. Many of them might have moved out either because of their floating nature or because of the lockdown,” the officer added.
Hamro Sikkim Party president Bhaichung Bhutia has come forward in aid of the migrant workers. “If there are any migrant workers who do not have a place to stay, I and United Sikkim Football Club want to help them. We will provide them with accommodation at my unfinished building at Lumsey Tadong. Let us all come together to solve their problem,” the ex-footballer said in a video message.
Sikkim MP Indra Hang Subba, on his part, called for the extension of the relief measures announced by the state government for the economically weaker sections of the society to the migrant workers as well.