The Inter-State Migrant Workmen (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 1979 is an Act of the Parliament of India enacted to regulate the condition of service of inter-state labourers in Indian labour law. The Act’s purpose is to protect workers whose services are requisitioned outside their native states in India. Whenever an employer faces shortage of skills among the locally available workers, the act creates provision to employ better skilled workers available outside the state.
The employment system of interstate migrant labour was an exploitative system prevalent more or less in all over India. It was rampantly institutionalized in Orissa and in some other states. In Orissa the migrant labour (called dadan labour locally) through contractors or agents (called Sardars / Khatedars) are sent for work outside the state in large construction projects. This system lends itself to various abuses. Sardar promising at the time of recruitment that wages would be calculated on piece rate basis would not be settled every month as promised. Once the worker came under clutches of the contractor he took him to a far off place on payment of railways fare only. No working hours were fixed for interstate migrant workers and they had to work on all the days in a week under extremely bad working conditions. The provisions of the various labour laws were not being observed in their case and they were subjected to extreme hardship to survive.
Twenty eighth State Labour Ministers conference held on 21-10-1976 recommended for setting up of a small compact committee to examine all issues and suggest measures for eliminating the abuses prevalent in the interstate workers deployment. The compact committee which was constituted in February 1977, recommended the enactment of a separate central legislation to regulate the employment of interstate migrant workers as it was felt the provisions of the Contract Labour (Regulation and Abolition) Act 1970, even after necessary amendments would not adequately take care of the variety of malpractices indulged in by the principal employers/contractors/Sardars/Khatedars etc. and the required facilities to be provided to these workmen in view of the peculiar circumstances in which they are working.
The recommendations of compact committee had been examined in consultation with the state governments and the relevant central ministries, Interstate Migrant Workmen (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 1979 was passed by both houses of Parliament and President of India gave his assent on 11-06-1979.
This Act makes provision for availing with the onsite services of interstate workers by the contractors / establishments to overcome only the temporary shortage of required skilled workers in a state. The purpose of this act is not to encourage interstate migration of workers against the interests of local workers as the principal employers would have to incur more cost in deploying interstate workers.