File photo of guest workers at MGR Central station boarding the special train to their home state. (TOI)

CHENNAI: Giving a breather for industries depending on guest workers, the Tamil Nadu government on Monday has issued standard operating procedure (SOP) to bring in guest workers from other states. It has now made it mandatory for employers to enroll the workers in the labour department’s online portal, while labourers, who test negative for Covid-19 on entry into the state, should be under quarantine for 14 days.
The nation-wide lockdown that kicked in on March 24 to prevent the spread of Covid-19 had triggered the exodus of guest workers. Nearly 4 lakh guest workers left the state in the special trains for the migrants to their home states, while several thousands of guest workers opted for different modes of transport to return to their families. This brought several industries, particularly construction, textile, engineering and allied industries to a standstill.
After repeated pleas from various industries, including CREDAI, the government issued the 10-point SOP allowing employers to bring back their labourers from other states. They have to apply to the respective district collector through Tamil Nadu e-pass and furnish all details including name, Aadhaar details, place of work.
The industry should bear the expenses of the transportation and ensure all labourers are screened before boarding the vehicle, said Chief Secretary K Shanmugam in the order.
On arrival, all individuals should be tested for Covid-19 through RT-PCR with the company bearing the cost for testing. If any of the labourers test positive, their treatment cost should be borne by the respective company/manpower agency. Those who test negative should be provided with a room quarantine facility for 14 days. If anyone develops symptoms during the 14 days, they should be tested for Covid-19. The workers should be deployed on work only after a mandatory 14-day period.
Wearing of masks, washing of hands and maintaining physical distancing should be maintained at the worksites. The body temperature of the workers should be checked every day. The government requested the employees to comply with the provisions of Inter State Migrant Workmen (Regulation of Employment and Condition of Service) Act 1979. According to the act, the guest workers have to register in the labour department portal and furnish details of their employer and their Aadhar and other details .
Welcoming the government’s order, chairman of CREDAI’s Tamil Nadu S Sridharan said that they have requested the government recently to appoint a senior official from the labour department to help the industries to avail the e-pass. In fact, several employers and labour contractors said though hundreds of labourers willing to return to work, they were unable to bring them back to TN due to difficulty in availing the e-pass./eom/shan/

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