Bishop urges better care for Kerala’s migrant laborers

Kochi, Kerala (Story – Matters India): A Catholic bishop in Kerala has urged the state government and labor groups to chalk out welfare programs to protect the dignity and rights of migrant laborers.

Some 3 million migrant laborers are engaged in various works in Kerala contributing to the southern Indian state’s economic growth, said Bishop Joseph Kariyil of Cochin, secretary general of the Kerala Catholic Bishops’ Council.

The prelate observed this while opening a two-day workshop on “Caring for Migrants” held at the Pastoral Orientation Center, Palarivattam, Kochi, the state’s commercial capital.

Bishop Kariyil said the contribution of the migrant laborers to Kerala is praiseworthy and the government, labor unions and organizations “need to come forward to protect the dignity and rights of migrant laborers.” Their important contribution has to be valued.

The Office of Labor under the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI) organized the June 17-18 workshop in collaboration with the Kerala Labor Movement.

Fr Jaison Vadaserry, secretary, CBCI Office of Labour and Director Workers India Federation (WFI) stressed caring for migrants as a pastoral responsibility. He said the meeting was organized to take steps to protect unorganized migrant workers providing them decent working conditions.

WFI president Joseph Jude, who chaired the workshop, invited the participants to help give the migrant laborers visibility and identity.

Other than participants from Kerala Region, representatives from different regions and organizations working for the welfare of the migrants and representatives of migrant workers attended the workshop.

They chalked out plans to help the migrant workers gain identity and political and legal support. The participants also stressed the need to help the migrants avail fair wages and spiritual care.

The workshop set up a Working Group to address the problems of the migrants in Kerala.

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