Global Economy

Coronavirus lockdown: Trade unions write to PM, seek Rs 5-7 lakh cr relief package

NEW DELHI: Central trade unions on Thursday urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to announce a financial package of Rs 5-7 lakh crore for the worst-affected segments of the working population, saying their survival is in jeopardy due to coronavirus-forced lockdown in the country.

“We demand that the government immediately announce not less than Rs 5 to 7 lakh crore package both 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 lockdown situation,” 10 trade unions said in a joint letter to the Prime Minister.

They stressed in the letter that saving the people’s living and livelihood must be considered integral to the Covid-19 combat strategy.


They also demanded announcement of concessions and debt moratorium for the MSMEs, small retail traders, street vendors, self-employed, who are the worst affected by the 21-day lockdown imposed by the government in view of the rapid spread of the coronavirus outbreak.

The unions noted that daily wagers, casual labourers, migrant workers, agriculture workers, self employed as hawkers and vendors, rickshaw pullers, e-rickshaw /auto/taxi drivers are facing livelihood crisis. Others like truck drivers and helpers, coolies/porters/loaders unloaders, construction and beedi workers, domestic workers and waste pickers etc are losing their livelihood in the lockdown/curfew situation.

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 letter said.

The trade unions also wrote that the door-to-door delivery of essentials like medicines, hygiene materials, vegetables/fruits and other food items must be allowed and facilitated.

They suggested that the government should immediately check the black marketing and hoarding of essential commodities.

Workers 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.

They also demanded that the registered workers under various welfare boards be provided Rs 5,000 as urgent measure.

The unions said that they were aghast that the government’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 crore out of about 54 crore of working people whose survival is put at stake.

They demanded 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 the government or advisory by the Labour Ministry is not at all working to prevent loss of employment and earnings in the process of lockdown, they added.


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