Groups protest against move to import labour

SHILLONG: The state government’s move to engage “highly skilled” labour from outside for infrastructure development has drawn flak from several organisations which fear that in the bargain the local labour force would become unemployed besides posing a threat to health in the state in the time of COVID-19 pandemic.
The organisations include Khasi Students’ Union (KSU), Jaintia Students’ Union (JSU), Federation of Khasi Jaintia & Garo People and the youth wing of the Khunn Hynniewtrep National Awakening Movement (KHNAM).
In separate letters to the Chief Minister, Conrad Sangma, the two student unions expressed apprehension that if the government adheres to this strategy, the skilled local youth might face unemployment in their own state, considering that the large number of trained hands, who recently returned from different metros, were available for engagement.
The KSU has decided to oppose tooth and nail the decision of the state government. Its president, Lambok Marngar, questioned as to who will take the responsibility of their quarantine or do they have to go directly to work.
“If they are to be under quarantine, then where will they be kept? Who will sanction the funds at a time when the state government is expressing its helplessness to make necessary arrangements for all quarantine centres for the returnees?” he said. The union has urged the state government to think over the decision again as hundreds and thousands of migrant labourers would make their way to the state.
Both the unions also appealed to local employers to utilise the services of the local youth instead of calling workers from outside the state. Asserting that the local workers have the necessary skills to work in any job sector, they pointed out that local skilled youth would be displaced in the state with the arrival of highly skilled migrant workers.
“The government must endorse the potency and capability of our youths today and provide them with better skill training so that one can work for the state and this itself would improve the human development of our state and also it mould mitigate the push factor of migrant youths to work outside the state”, the JSU said.
Cautioning the government against inviting work force from outside due to the COVID-19 outbreak, JSU has pleaded with the government to invest in the local youth instead and “make them more employable in the job market”.
At the same time, the union has appealed to different companies and private business entities located in the state to employ local youth who have returned from different parts of the country after normalcy is restored.
Meanwhile, lending to the chorus of dissent, the FKJGP has opposed the decision in view of the chaos created by the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a statement issued here, the FKJGP president, Wellbirth Rani, questioned the move of the government to bring outsiders while inter-district movement is still restricted.
The organisation also pointed out that construction of entry and exit points have been delayed which could have been useful in monitoring the entry of outsiders.
The organisation has also directed its members to assist the government as volunteers to check the entry of outsiders.
The president of the KHNAM youth wing, Thomas Passah, has also expressed concern over the decision of the state government to allow outsiders to work in the state.
In a statement issued here, he said that the decision is not in the interest of the state healthwise.
“It shows that the state government does not have any responsibility towards its citizens”, he said adding that the party is strongly against the decision.
Protest in SWKH
The Khasi Students Union (KSU) South West Khasi Hills on Sunday slammed the state government for allowing migrant workers to work in Meghalaya saying that it has “betrayed the people who are cooperating with the government for three months” and has declared that it will not accept it.
“We will not accept this decision of the government and we will not allow migrant workers to enter our district,” President of the KSU South West Khasi Hills Forwardman Nongrem said, while urging the leaders not to allow migrants.

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