Workers in unorganised sector stare at uncertain future

A family of waste-pickers left to fend for themselves in Guntur. The outbreak of COVID-19 has left many of them jobless and on the brink of starvation.   | Photo Credit: T. VIJAYA KUMAR

The outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic has thrown thousands of workers in unorganised sectors out of work and has put them on the verge of starvation.

Waste-pickers, construction workers, daily wage labourers including many migrants, and sanitation workers are staring at an uncertain future. Whether they will find work with the norms of social distancing set to get extended is a moot question.

In major towns like Guntur, about 50,000 are employed directly or indirectly in the burgeoning construction industry, chilli yard, ginning and spinning mills. In this February-May peak season, hundreds of migrant workers come here for work. The COVID-19 lockdown this time has forced them to stay in temporary shelters depending on three meals provided there.

Fighting against odds

“The lockdown has rendered thousands of workers jobless. They are fighting coronavirus and hunger at the same time. Most of them do not possess government identification cards, and are finding it increasingly difficult to avail themselves of any of government-sponsored relief schemes,’’ says executive secretary of Dalit Bahujan Resource Centre Alladi Deva Kumar.

In order to bridge the gap between the government and the unorganised workers, the DBRC has begun sensitising the communities about the severity of coronavirus, its mode of transmission, precautionary measures, and dos and don’ts.

A dry ration kit consisting of rice, dal, oil, onions, chilli powder, turmeric powder, tamarind and salt and hygiene kits consisting of sanitisers, soaps, sanitary pads and masks have been provided to around 1,700 workers.

“We have also prepared a list of 234 waste-pickers who do not possess a ration card in Vijayawada and submitted it to the Municipal Commissioner there and he has immediately provided ration to them. We have also represented to the Collector of Kurnool to provide ration and supplementary nutrition to the children who were not enrolled in Anganwadi Centres,’’ said Mr. Deva Kumar. In Kurnool, the CDPO has distributed ration and eggs to 40 children, seven pregnant and lactating mothers.


“Most of the daily wagers are not able to access ration as they do not have a white ration card. They usually migrate to a different district in search of work. Though there are mechanisms to provide essential rations for the socially poor, not having an identity card is hindering them from getting support,” he added.

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Printable version | Oct 27, 2020 11:33:27 PM |

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