The brick kiln labourers are one of the largest workforces of unregulated labour in India.
Most of them are migrant workers who work at the kiln for the duration of the dry season. They are paid below minimum wage, receive no benefits. A large part of the workforce is children. Security measures are non-existent. There are no holidays. They live in make-shift housing with no water or sanitation. For seven long months, the workers – men, women and children toil at the scorching steaming kilns from morning till night.
“It is one of the most inhumane work spaces in the world today,” says Community Correspondent Ajeeth Bahadur from Uttar Pradesh, “As the construction industry booms, there is more and more demand for these bricks. Some of these bricks will be lining the walls of luxury apartments. In spite of all the development, the conditions in which these people are living and working has remained the same over the years.”
There are schemes that the children of the migrant workers can benefit by, like to Right To Education Act under which it is mandatory for the government to open seasonal schools in the neighbourhood of the kilns. But Ajeeth says that the workers are so bound by money that they would not wish to forsake the extra income earned by the children just so they can educate themselves.
“The workers are mired in a dead end deal,” says Ajeeth. “It is hand to mouth for them. The only hope is for the government to intervene and regularize the sector.”
Mother of Prasanta Naik took a loan to bring her sons back who were working in Chennai.
A group of migrant labourers had to walk several hundred kilometres and spend days in a Madhya Pradesh quarantine centre without any facilities.