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India Lockdown on Covid-19: Joint Letter by Trade Unions to the Prime Minister

Friday 27 March 2020, by siawi3


India Lockdown on Covid-19: Joint Letter by Trade Unions to the Prime Minister

26 March 2020

Shri Narendra Modi
Hon’ble Prime Minister
Govt. of India
New Delhi


We, the Central Trade Unions, while taking the lockdown as necessary step as a preventive measure to stop spread of Covid-19 infection, believe that Rs. 15000 crores allocated to the health sector in your address to the nation on 24th March is too meager. You would agree that there is dire need of the country for testing and providing all out medical help to all those infected cases. A war like preparedness is required for provision of ventilators, masks, increased bed capacity, availability of medicines, maintenance of hygiene etc. The front soldiers in the case of medical help are our doctors, nurses, other para-medical staff, ASHAs and cleaning staff etc. who need to be taken care of. But it is they who are being neglected and not fully equipped as the requests and complaints from them including from AIIMS Resident Doctors Association, the Nurses organizations from various parts of the country are all in open for all to see. We are dismayed at the fact that the government of India allowed export of all these required equipments in fighting Covid-19 till 19th March 2020 despite WHO guidelines to stop it in the beginning of February itself.

It must have come to your notice that the shameful acts of harassment of doctors, nurses etc. to vacate residential premises have occurred in various cities. The shameful instances of harassment of those working in airlines including Air India staff which brought stranded Indians from abroad have also come to light. This must be taken cognizance of by the concerned authorities and the guilty be booked to give clear signal to the society in this regard.

We have been receiving complaints from our unions that the workers and employees of the permitted essential services by the government are not being allowed to commute the work places by police in many areas despite they have ID proofs provided by the government departments and public sector offices.

The poor masses who are daily wagers/casual/migrant/ agriculture workers or are self employed as hawkers-vendors, rickshaw pullers, e rickshaw/auto/taxi drivers, those who are truck drivers and helpers, coolies/porters/loaders unloaders, construction & beedi workers, domestic workers and waste pickers etc. are losing their livelihood in the lockdown/curfew situation, have been left in lurch for nothing to bank upon. Their very human survival has been put in total jeopardy as they lost their only means of their income and sustenance due to lockdown situation. The door to door delivery of essentials like medicines, hygiene materials, vegetables/fruits and other food items be allowed and facilitated. The government should immediately check the black marketing and hoarding of essential commodities.

They need immediate income support/financial relief, free ration and free fuel to cook food. The supply of essential grains and necessities from public distribution system (PDS) should be made with immediate effect from the existing stocks and not to wait till April. The registered workers under various welfare boards be provided Rs. 5000/- as urgent measure. Apart from that all the unregistered including MGNREGA workers and those mentioned in the Para above be given immediate interim cash relief. Since the agricultural and farm products are perishable, the state governments should be directed to start procurement centers for the same including fruits, vegetables, fish, poultry etc. In our understanding in many cases, the food should be provided from govt. run outlets.

This requires big economic package from the government. The clean drinking water and other water needs for washing hands and bodies, the needs of hygiene and sanitation are very essential, specially in this pandemic situation.

We were aghast that the govt’s Economic Taskforce headed by Finance Minister was only busy in announcing extension in deadlines for filing IT returns, GST, about TDS or the cases under Bankruptcy Act etc benefitting mainly the defaulters among the big-businesses but there was no announcement made for the 40 crores out of about 54 crores of working people whose survival is put in stake, looking towards the incumbent government for urgent help.

We demand immediate announcement of strong statutory enforceable measures to arrest and put a ban on the ongoing spree of retrenchments, wage cut, forced unpaid leave etc being perpetrated by the employers on the workers, particularly contract/casual/temporary/fixed term workers in various establishments, particularly in private sector throughout the country to be enforced both by central and state governments. Mere Appeal by Govt or Advisory by Labour Ministry is not at all working to prevent loss of employment and earnings in the process of lockdown.

We demand that the government immediately come out with clear announcement of concrete package/scheme on income-support/livelihood-support for the most vulnerable 40 crore of informal sector workers to deal with all these issues at the earliest; as otherwise anxieties of no work and no food amongst toiling masses will create problems in dealing with Covid 19 pandemic. The govt. has to immediately increase the financial package for health sector to tackle emergent needs of medical fraternity and the expansion of health infrastructure.

We demand announcement of concessions and debt-moratorium for the MSMEs, small retail-traders, street vendors/self-employed, who are the worst affected by lock-down.
We demand that the government immediately announce not less than Rs. 5 to 7 lakh crore package both to to meet urgent need of combating Covid-19 as well as for protection of means of survival for the working people who are worst affected by the unavoidable lock-down situation. Saving the people’s living and livelihood must be considered integral to the Covid-19 combat strategy.