The Central Govt’s 18 point advisory to state govts falls far short of addressing the burning issues of the over 139 million workers in this category; the maximum number of them and their families have just gone through harrowing times due to the callous anti people method of imposing lockdown for the pandemic by the Central Govt. All assurances to working class given by the Govt. of wages and job protection have proved fully hollow. The advisory is full of platitudes and shallow steps – Labour Depts are to acquaint workers about welfare measures not ensure that they are paid wages for period of lockdown, are restored on duties and paid full wages. Platitudes about needy workers being given ration, about children’s education not suffering and workers not having to foot the cost of corona testing abound, but there is not one advise to enforce wages or job restoration. There is advice to register the migrant in both state of origin and state of work but no clear-cut instructions and time frame on how this record will be created.
The massive human disaster created by the Central Govt’s anti-people method of executing lockdown, the terrible times both workers who tried to or were forced to return home as well as those who stayed back faced, the lack of two meals a day overall for migrants and their families in this entire period has been witnessed by the whole world as workers and their families defied the Central Govt’s diktat and walked back home all over the country, fleeing from hunger, insecurity, lack of shelter or support. There was no parallel for this inhuman and anti people dealing in the whole world. The Central Govt’s advisory now, as millions are forced to return due to lack of alternatives in villages, is far from addressing their real issues. Work has hardly reopened in most sectors, wages for lockdown period are not being given, there is no ration scheme for all, tenants are forced to pay rent or quit while landlords too are often dependent on rentals, jobs have dried up, employers are not giving full wages even for current work, massive retrenchments are on and labour depts stand paralyzed. The medium, small and micro industrial sector also is reeling under lack of consumption. Government support has been the absent feature in the migrant workers’- in fact all workers’- facing of the Pandemic. IFTU demands clear-cut, enforceable guidelines for registration of every single migrant worker under Inter State Migrant Workers Act in time bound period, ensuring lockdown wages to all returning workers as well as restoration to duty where work has started. In addition and most important, Central Govt should pay Rs10,000 per person for 6 months as Pandemic period support to whoever is not drawing minimum wage. Secondly all families must be provided rations. The Health Budget must be immediately raised to 5% of GDP and all private health services taken over so all migrant workers too should get treatment at govt. facilities if they fall ill.
Platitudes, sops and advisories for further advising workers cannot absolve the Central Govt either from its callousness towards the massive number of migrant workers or from its failure to act now to enforce jobs, rights, security and wages for the huge migrant working class.
IFTU NC calls on all constituents to build struggle for immediate announcement of genuine protection of rights of migrants, for financial, food and medical support by Central govt to all workers as per IFTU Charter, through the pandemic period.
Aparna B. Pradeep
President General Secretary
National Committee IFTU
10th Sept 2020