India: Unorganised workers and COVID-19

24 March 2020 11:50

 Unorganised workers (known as workers in the informal economy elsewhere) are subject to the Coronavirus just like other workers. With most of the state governments in India calling on people to strictly observe social distancing and remain in their homes, this is causing  a major impact on unorganised workers, many of whom work in construction. 

Moreover, the preventive tests and measures are not accessible to the said workers, due to their prohibitive cost. 

As a response, DMK President Mr.M.K.Stalin, Ex Deputy CM, requested the state government to compensate all unorganised workers for their loss of income due to the pandemic. He also announced that  all of his party’s MPs and MLAs will contribute one-month of their salaries to the government.

While welcoming this gesture, Ponkumar Ponnuswamy, President of the TKTMS has submitted a memorandum to the CM, requesting an initial transfer of an amount of Rs.15000/-to each unorganized worker, including the construction workers registered in the Welfare Boards and to issue rations without charge. 

TKTMS made the call on rations after the government announced that it will issue free rations but will only  pay a meager amount of Rs.1000/- to the unorganised workers. It was also reported that the government will issue free rations to the inter-state migrant workers, even if they have not enrolled in the Welfare Board.

Lastly, the union has also issued  a press statement on the issues of unorganised workers which was widely published in regional newspapers. In addition, the union has participated in a debate on COVID 19, which was aired by, Sathyam TV, a leading Tamil channel.