Kerala’s Guest Workforce

Kerala’s Guest Workforce


Kochi, Ernakulam district, Kerala, 682005, India

Project Description

Looking at the welfare of interstate migrant labourers on job sites and their living conditions

The design thesis looks at the rapid urban development in cities around the world like Kochi, India, through the lens of the workforce that builds it. Issues on ethical labour practices and workers' welfare in the workplace and living are explored.

Cities like Kochi across the developing world are going through rapid city development which is reliant on cheap labour in industries such as construction, and in the past 15 years has seen rapid influxes of interstate migration. Every 1 in 9 Indian in Kerala is a migrant labourer often working in segregated and/or unregulated informal work, making this group vulnerable to work-based exploitation, lacking in healthcare and access to governmental support.

The urban strategy sets out to create an inclusive non-discriminatory urban environment that is responsive to changes in its population, and ensures the right of adequate standards of living, safe employment, and access to social infrastructures for all workers. A network of job centres building on the current informal labour markets typically at road junctions named ‘nakas’, sets out to regulate the industry to provide labourers with safer fairer employment and employers with ethically sourced workers. The centers will provide training on occupational health & safety, skills development & progression, provide legal aid and backing on workplace disputes, support access to social governmental programmes & support networks, and lastly work towards strengthening social cohesion between locals and migrants.

Getting governments and the wider society to recognise migrants as essential for city growth and therefore ensure their welfare; through inclusive development, the city can provide dignified and safe, living and working conditions for all its inhabitants whether temporal or permanent.

Meylan Fernandez-Villazon