IFTU National Committee Calls for Effective Measures to Stop Covid19
IFTU holds that with such poor access of the overwhelming majority of the people to health facilities, all efforts should be directed towards preventing the spread of Covid19 in the country. While it needs the whole hearted effort of the whole society, it is painful that the Govt. has not displayed enough seriousness in addressing the problem. Mere symbolism indulged in by the Central Govt. does not inspire confidence in its seriousness which is very much required. Its efforts are found wanting on almost all the counts.
This virus has come to India through the people who have come to the country from abroad. However, the callous carelessness of the Govt. in allowing entry without testing and compulsory quarantine of the people at airports who are coming from abroad is a matter of horror and deep regret. This is the single reason for the very entry of novel corona virus into India and also for the continual fresh entries. This has happened despite being more than adequately forewarned though this would have been the single most effective measure. It is the VIP culture in the country which has been a stumbling block.
PM Modi led Central Govt. and State govts are announcing lockdowns for people, which are going to break the back of working class households. With the majority workforce being contract, casual or daily wage workers, every day without a wage will devastate households. Govts must immediately announce payments of minimum wages as per state laws to every person for the period of lockdown. Besides, full wages of the employees of all establishments must be made mandatory. IFTU expresses utter dismay at the lack of any announcement by the PM in his address to the country and the pittance of Rs. 1000/- per person to 20 lakh workers by UP govt. and similar announcements by some other state govts. IFTU calls upon the Govt. to show its seriousness by immediately announcing compulsory payment of minimum wages along with providing free rations to the people for the period of lock down.
Social distancing has emerged as one of the most significant measures to stop the spread of this deadly virus. This is also recognized by the Govt. However, its enforcement needs more serious approach. Mostly there are 5 to 6 people per family in one room homes. The only way is to open up all public spaces, govt. buildings, completed and unsold buildings of builders, private homes lying empty etc. to spread out the population for effective social distancing till this pandemic is overcome. It is not only necessary but very much possible if there is will of the Govt.
IFTU is dismayed that the PM has put the entire onus for safety on the people in his 9 points. IFTU also notes that so many private sector units are announcing wage cuts and enforced leaves. Private industrial sector is working and Govt. has given no clue whether it will support small industrialists to give wages to workers for no work days.
In addition is the terrorizing experience of migrant workers trying to return home as no room rents can be paid with wages cut or absent. Trains have been stopped, there is no set up designated to help them. The Central Govt. must ensure each such worker a free travel home in disinfected bogies with social distancing in seating.
IFTU demands that the Central Govt. and specifically the Central Labour Minister should immediately address these issues. IFTU NC appeals to all Trade Union Centres to come together to raise these issues and to jointly place them before the Govt. for the urgent redressal.
Aparna B. Pradeep
President General Secretary
Indian Federation of Trade Unions (IFTU)
March 21, 2020