In recent years the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh has emerged as a major point of departure for thousands of migrants leaving India - each year close to 200,000 workers leave this state alone - for work in foreign destinations, particularly the Gulf region.
One BWI affiliate from Uttar Pradesh – Bhawan Nirman Karmakar Mazdoor Union (BNKMU) – has been actively prioritising migrant worker organising, devising innovative outreach strategies. One such strategy includes distributing and displaying union awareness materials along major state bus routes, which ferry (mostly outbound workers) from their home districts to the Lucknow International Airport.
“We are catering to a very large state with a huge population”, said BNKMU General Secretary Pramod Patel. “To reach out to the migrant workers in far-flung locations, we needed to apply innovative strategies that build awareness on migrant workers’ rights, to organise them and to provide assistance when the need arises”.
The BNKMU is now aiming to formalise cooperation with the transport service companies to regularly display awareness materials on routes known as catering to migrant workers. Similarly, the union is also exploring cooperation with Western Union Money Transfer to display union awareness materials in selected outlets.
BNKMU has also been working with other stakeholders to establish the UP Non Resident Indian Department and a Migration Resource Centre (MRC) in Lucknow, the state capital. The fifth of its kind, MRCs provide information, guidance, advice and counseling on all aspects of overseas employment including legal and regulatory requirements, documentation and procedures, policy analysis, and addressing problems faced by Indian workers.