COVID-19 | Shutdown hits daily wage workers hard

Govt. urged to issue order asking employers to grant them paid leave

For Narendra V. (name changed on request), a daily wage worker who was employed at a fast food chain in a mall, surviving in Bengaluru has become increasingly difficult with each passing day.

The government’s decision to extend the shutdown on malls, theatres, etc. till March 31 to contain the spread of COVID-19 has him worried, and his savings are running out. “This month’s end looks gloomy as I won’t be paid for at least 15 days. And what if it’s extended further?” he said.

Daily wage workers like Narendra are feeling the impact of the pandemic on the already bleak job market. Many daily wage workers said it was only once the restrictions were imposed by the government which had shut down malls, theatres, etc. that jobs started drying out so quickly.

Vijaya Bhaskar D.A., general secretary, All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC), who has been urging the government to issue an order to all the employers and institutions to provide daily wage workers with paid leave, said the onus to protect them is with the authorities.

“Though the shutdown is in the larger interest of the society, governments — both the Centre and State — should also think about daily wage workers too. If they do not work, they do not earn,” said Mr. Bhaskar.

Domestic workers told to stay at home

Domestic workers, too, are worried as several households have asked them not to report to work till at least the end of the month. However, not all families are willing to pay them their salaries. One housekeeper said she would be happy to get at least half her salary so that she can run her own house.

On the other hand, housekeeping staff and domestic workers, especially in technology parks along Outer Ring Road. find themselves in a Catch-22 situation of sorts. “Due to the fear of disease, we are made to clean frequently and extensively unlike before. For instance, now we have to clean lifts and stairs and banisters each and every time we are called in by companies,”said Iman Nargis, who works for a contractor that provides housekeeping services to offices in ORR.

However, since many companies have asked employees to work from home and offices are closed for the most part, they don’t have to report to work every day. For people like Nargis who are paid by the contract, this has already affected her income.

“Some of the offices here used to see people from other countries coming in regularly. So we are worried that we are more exposed. On the one hand, we work in fear. On the other hand, we don;’t have any work on some days and we do not get paid.”

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Printable version | Jun 2, 2020 5:40:17 PM |

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