Khasi Students’ Union (KSU), on March 12, prevented 90 migrant workers without permits from entering the state.
A statement issued by the union said that activists of the KSU Umsning circle intercepted two buses having registration number plates AS 01 GC 7338 and AS 01 KC 5638 and occupied by out-of-state workers without permits at Umsning area.
The workers did not have valid documents under the Inter-State Migrants Workmen (Regulations of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 2011, the organisation said.
According to KSU, the workers said contractors charged them a price of Rs 4,000 for safe entry into the state, and onward to cement factories in East Jaintia Hills.
On the unregulated influx of out-of-state migrants, many of them transient workers, into the state, KSU said, “The officials manning the infiltration check gate have failed to do their duty.”
The workers were placed in the custody of Umsning Police.
At the moment, not much is known about the identities of the contractors alleged to be running the labour recruitment racket.
Local industries and contractors in Meghalaya are often accused of taking in cheap labour from poorer states in India, which helps undercut wages in the state, thus putting local labour in no position to bargain for better wages and benefits.
Unions in the state have been thus far unsuccessful in challenging capital interests, and flouting of the Inter-state Migrants Workmen Act continues unabated.
Wage labour employment has been a hot-button issue in Meghalaya in recent times, often erupting into racial violence.
In 2021, a construction worker from Ujnghagrar Char village of Mankachar district, Assam, was lynched to death and seven more from the same region were attacked in West Khasi Hills. The event forced the Cabinet, at the time, to introduce a scheme for victims of mob lynchings in the state.
In October 2022, an employment rally organised by Federation of Khasi Jaiñtia and Garo People took a violent colour as innocent non-tribal bystanders were attacked.