'Workers wage daily war for survival during lockdown'

Workers wage daily war for survival during lockdown: survey

Migrant workers carry food and water on Hosuru Road in Benglauru. DH File Photo

More than a week after Karnataka entered lockdown, the disruption of the working class’ livelihood is pushing them to penury. A latest survey of the situation shows that 56% of the respondents were surviving with no income at all.

The survey, a collaborative effort of trade unions by the All India Central Council of Trade Unions (AICCTU), domestic and garment workers’ union,  besides women’s organisations, is the second part of the study on the impact of lockdown on daily, weekly and monthly wagers. It comes about a week after the first report, which warned the government about the consequences of a lockdown.

More than 93% of the respondents in the survey said they stayed back in the city either due to the lack of transport arrangements or for the fear that they may spread the virus in rural areas.

The survey stated that 83% of the respondents have completely stopped work and those still working were primarily from healthcare and sanitation sectors. “Among those we surveyed, 65% said that their livelihood had fully or partially been affected. This is a near 22% increase from the previous round,” it said.

Only 32% of the respondents could manage to stretch their previous week’s wages or last month’s salary to make ends meet and 20% said they have to borrow money. 

This condition is exacerbated by the fact that migrant workers do not have ration cards. At a time when even the card holders are finding it difficult to  get rations from PDS shops, the lockdown has hit them further.

Worryingly, the survey found that pregnant women, young mothers and children who used to get nutritious food under various programmes have stopped receiving it.

With March coming to an end, even salaried workers expressed helplessness in meeting the expenses next month and 32% had no answer on how they were managing currently.

“The lack of any state support for poor and working classes in the city is evident from the fact that 83% had no income support from the state through any programmes or schemes. This absence of a safety net was mitigated by turning to social and kinship networks under ordinary circumstances. This is not easily available now,” the
report noted.

The report included several recommendations to the government, including providing food through mobile vans, opening cooked food centres and door delivery of foodgrains and other materials. It also sought financial support of Rs 1,000 for each of the affected and said Karnataka should issue an order like Maharashtra, suspending collection of house rents next month.