Sixteen migrant workers sleeping on rail tracks while returning to Madhya Pradesh were crushed to death by a goods train in Aurangabad district of Maharashtra on Friday.
The organisations, which have come together as a "National Campaign for Migrant Workers" demanded that all migrant workers returning home be provided with an ex- gratia of Rs 7,000 in lieu of the wages lost because of the nationwide lockdown imposed to stave off the spread of coronavirus.
"Victims of the railway track accident, and all those who died while travelling to their homes, be given ex-gratia of Rs 50 lakh from PM Cares Fund," they said.
The campaign had earlier written to the prime minister demanding speedy return of workers to their homes and warned of a humanitarian disaster if the return was delayed.
"This has now come true. The migrant workers are protesting all over the country demanding a speedy return to their homes. Lakhs of workers continue to walk to their homes thousands of kilometres away," it said.
While the government allowed the movement of migrant workers back to their homes under public and legal pressure on April 29, all actions taken since then show that the intent is to hold workers back, they said in their letter.
The campaign rued that the number of trains introduced is so low that it will take months for workers to go back.
"The government fears that there will be a shortage of workers to restart the economy. The campaign would like to point out that such a stance, besides being wrong on humanitarian and legal ground, is also counterproductive," the letter read.
"Earlier the workers go back, earlier they will come back for work. It is very unrealistic to expect the workers to start doing work in their current frame of mind," it said.
The movement of migrant workers to their homes must be undertaken on a war footing, mobilizing all possible means of transportation and coordinated by a central task force, the civil society organizations said.
The campaign also protested the orders of state governments diluting labour laws.
"A number of state governments have passed orders extending work hours to 12 hours and suspending labour laws for varying periods of time. Such blatant dilution of labour laws cannot be allowed under exigencies of disaster management," it said. PTI GVS TDS