Working Condition of Migrant Labourers and its Impact on Their Well-Being

A case study of Brick kilns labourer in Shyampur of Howrah District

Master's Thesis, 2014

60 Pages, Grade: 1st Class

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1. Introduction

Every year the poor from Orissa, West Bengal, Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh migrate to work in the brick kilns of Howrah District. These labourers migrate in semi-bonded conditions due to acute shortage of sustainable livelihood options in their native places. Moneylenders and contractors further compound the socio-economic condition of these labourers because of exploitative practices. Middlemen or labour contractors emerged as a set of exploiters. Their job is simple: They coax the poor people and farmers of these poorest areas of the country into migrating for work to other states where the rich industrialists, brick-kiln owners or road contractors savour the cheap but skilled labour.

The Labour contractors have a very strong nexus with the brick kiln owners. Advances are given with the condition that the labourers fulfill their obligation with the contractor by going to the predetermined destinations where their labour is harnessed. Needless to say, basic sanitation is absent. The worst affected are the children, for whom there is neither any amusement nor any form of recreation. They too help their parents in making bricks. With the family come the children below 14 years of age. The children are bonus to the contractors and brick kiln owners as: a) the children are engaged in work at low wages and b) the children help their parents to meet the daily targets.

As a result of children being with their parents they lose out on education. For 6-7 months of the year they remain in the kilns which are far away from their native place and where there is no facility for education. When they go back after the brick kiln season another academic year has gone by. In present some N.G.O are helping these poor people through give basic education especially for children and food, dress etc. these N.G.O are source of light of their precious life.


This rapid assessment combines a bottom‐up and top‐down approach for establishing a better understanding of the nature of migrated labour in three brick kilns of Shyampur-I Block in Howrah district.

The basic objectives are:

1. Document the nature, extent of migrant labourer and child labourer in Brick kilns.
2. Identify the socio –economic condition of the migrant labourer.
3. Evaluate the situations of specific vulnerable, and Problems of migrant labourer in brick kilns.
4. Mapping of receiving areas - identification of brick kilns in the coverage area.
5. Estimating the number of children to migrate to the brick kilns.
6. Special focus on child labour and reason to join in brick kilns as a labour.
7. To describe the working and living conditions of children working in brick kilns.
8. To identify factors that affect the development of children, including education, health, and safety of children in brick factories


Push Factors: - Factors that make you want to leave from a place

1) Economic factors:

a) Lack of employment

b) Lack of food or shelter

c) Lower standard of living

2) Social Factors:

a) Lack of health care

b) Lack of educational opportunities

Pull Factors: - Factors that draw you to live in a place

1) Economic Factors:

a) Hope for better employment

b) More money and food

c) Better shelter

d) Hope for family to have a higher standard of living

2) Social Factors:

a) Encouragement from family and friends

b) Better health care

c) Better educational opportunities


Study area

The study area located beside the riverbank of Hoogly River at Shyampur Block-I of Howrah district. This area is a southern part of Howrah district. Three kilns i.e. Royal, Durga and S.B.R.B.W situated in difference Mouza. Royal Brick kiln located at Kurchiberia Mouza, S.B.R.B.W Brick kilns located at Sibganj Mouza and Durga brick kiln located at Dingakhola Mouza.


The methodology of this study uses quantitative and qualitative research tools to provide a detailed study of migrated labour in brick kilns. My research methodology adopts a balanced approach in looking at adult and child migrated labour, as the two are intertwined. In these brick kilns, children are rarely sent to the brick kilns with their family.


The household survey of 43 families provided the main source of quantitative Information for the survey. A purposive‐then‐random sampling methodology was applied. In this sampling there was a quota of both child and adult workers in each Brick kilns. Male and female response was taken on the basis of their problems. However maximum response of female worker had been taken as they face many problems in brick kilns. Of the child workers surveyed, 60% girls and 40% boys were surveyed. Of the adult workers, 55% were women and 45 % were men.


Three focus group discussions were conducted with groups of four child workers of Durga kilns, six adult workers (2male, & 4female) of Durga brick kiln and one brick kiln manager of S.B.R.B.W Brick kiln. Groups were kept small – not exceeding 7 individuals per group – in order to create a space in which individuals felt comfortable to speaking openly about the sensitive topics related to child labour and problem face by workers especially female. Focus groups lasted 15 minutes to 30 Minute on average. A case study was conducted to collect additional qualitative Information for the study’s analysis. It consists of interviews with child workers, households, and a recruiter.



Chapter 2 provides an overview of the functioning of brick kilns in Shyampur and explores how and why they come in these brick kilns as a migrated labourers. The organizational structure within brick kilns is characterized by a rigid hierarchy in which the top and the bottom rarely interact; a greater role is attributed to middle‐men, who play a crucial role in recruitment and retention of migrated labourers.



There are 6 key roles that are essential to brick making: i) Kiln owner, ii) Assistant/Accountant, iii) Recruiter ( Jamadar), iv) Kiln operator, v) Labourers. The most important of these actors, in determining the outcome for the workers, is the middle‐man – the recruiter. This creates a relationship of dependency between the workers and the recruiters.

1. Kiln owner:
The kiln owner is the head of the operation. The kiln owner rarely deals with the workers. The kiln owners use their own land for establishing their brick kilns. Some time they rent the land from local landowners.

2. Assistant or accountant:
Kiln owner has an assistant or accountant that keeps track of the number of brick families produce daily in order to tabulate the wages earned on a weekly basis, based on a predetermined wages of a day.

3. Kiln operator:
Kiln operators are those who look after the all section of works in brick kiln. He also identify the identify the well being of labourers.

4. The recruiter:
The recruiter has a central role as the middle-man between the owner and the workers. He is in charge of recruiting and retaining workers.

Labourers are at the bottom of the hierarchy. They works long hours in the brick kiln.

[Figures are not displayed in this preview.]

Figure-1 Hierarchies in Brick Kilns



Sarder coordinates the contracts, which are almost always verbal. The contract is technically between the head of household and kiln owner. However, there is a tacit agreement that members of the household will also be helping in the production of unbaked bricks – unless there are no other household members fit to work in the kiln. The terms of the contract include a minimum number of months the household must exclusively work for the kiln.


In brick industry, advances are commonly used to tie workers and their families to a kiln and keep wages low. However, the advances and repayment are always handled by the Sarder, who receives a lump sum for all of the kiln’s advances from the kiln owner. He is in charge of distributing the advances and ensuring repayment. If the families do not pay back the advances, the Sarder is held responsible. Workers can decide how quickly to pay back advances, as it is to the employer’s advantage if they stay bonded for a longer period of time.


Employers around the world provide in-kind benefits which have the potential to create dependence. However, by depending on the kiln owner for such essentials goods, it makes it much harder for families to leave the kilns, as they depend on the kiln owners not only for their livelihoods but for basic goods (shelter and water).



Chapter 3 focusing on the labour terms and conditions for average workers. Most migrant labourer recognize the benefits of their situation (housing, electricity, water), interviewed labourers family also recognized the sacrifices to their children’s lives (health and education). This chapter also mentions the migrating condition, working status, economic condition, Ethnic status, problems of labourers, health & education, living condition and social status of the migrated labour.


The poor people from Jharkhand, Orissa, and U.P & Western part of west Bengal (Purulia) comes here for job. There are many push factors that forced them to migrate from their native place. This migration helps them to improve their socio economic condition.


[Figures are not displayed in this preview.]

Figure -2

Jharkhand is the dominated state from where maximum people (66.67%) migrate to the Shyampur P.S as a brick kiln labour. Poor socio-economic condition and lack of job force them to move for search of job on other state. Due to lack of skill both education and working they chose the job of brick kiln labour. From Purulia & S. 24 Parganas there is a second largest (14.29%) people comes here for job. Five years ago Purulia was the dominant region from where maximum people came in this study area but in present the trend of migration become fall from Purulia. Maximum people say the development of Tribal society and govt. projects both central and states i.e. 100 days work, Indira abash jojona etc. that improve their socio-economic condition are the main reasons for decline of migration from Purulia. 11.90 % labourers migrate from U.P. Maximum labours from U.P involve in fireman job in brick kilns in this study area. 7.14 % labourers migrate from Orissa. Maximum people from Orissa join in the brick kiln as a labour traditionally.

60 of 60 pages


Working Condition of Migrant Labourers and its Impact on Their Well-Being
A case study of Brick kilns labourer in Shyampur of Howrah District
West Bengal State University  (Bhairab Ganguly College)
1st Class
Catalog Number
ISBN (Book)
File size
5620 KB
migrant labour, brick kiln, child labour, india
Quote paper
Kuntal Guria (Author), 2014, Working Condition of Migrant Labourers and its Impact on Their Well-Being, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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