Unions demand income support for informal workers

COVID-19: Unions seek labour minister's intervention to prevent job losses; demand income support for informal workers

Migrant workers wait to receive food packets at an industrial area during a government-imposed nationwide lockdown as a preventive measure against the COVID-19 coronavirus, in Chennai on April 1, 2020. (Photo by Arun SANKAR / AFP)

Trade unions on Thursday sought Labour Minister Santosh Gangawar's intervention at the ground level to stop retrenchment of employees and salary cuts and also demanded an income support scheme for over 40-crore informal workers hit by the coronavirus lockdown in the country. 

The 10 central trade unions have written a letter to the minister, bringing to his attention issues like job losses, forced unpaid leave and salary cuts.

In the letter, the unions said, "A comprehensive income-support scheme for all the unorganised/informal sector workers is the urgent need of the hour and we urge the government to urgently act upon the same to save overwhelming majority of the country's workforce from biggest human disaster."

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On the jobs front, they said, "We are still regularly getting information of forced unpaid leave, etc, including from NCR region.''

"Appeal/advisory by the government, both the Labour Ministry and Home Ministry, is not at all working at ground level to prevent loss of employment and earnings and also eviction from local residence in the process of lockdown," the letter said.

The government must act urgently to rescue migrant workers with necessary transport facilities and they should be provided with food, shelter, water and required health services.

Read: Coronavirus India update: State-wise total number of confirmed cases, deaths

Bank branches in some cases are 40-50 kilometre away from the place of workers/their families, hence the other methods of disbursal of cash transfer should also be devised, they added.

The unions that have jointly written the letter to labour minister are: INTUC, AITUC, HMS, CITU, AIUTUC, TUCC, SEWA, AICCTU, LPF and UTUC.