Andhra Pradesh

Desperate daily workers find no takers for even half wage

It has been an elusive wait for work for daily wagers in Ongole during the pandemic.   | Photo Credit: KOMMURI SRINIVAS

Fifty five-year-old Nagaiah, a construction worker from Thuravagunta, comes to the Ongole bypass centre at dawn every day without fail with eager anticipation of finding work.

But most of the times he returns dejected after waiting till noon when the relaxation period of the lockdown ends. Like him, there are tens of others who come from nearby villages in search of work at the centre. The plight of everyone is the same.

Since the second wave of the pandemic started, most of the construction activity in both the public and private sectors have come to a grinding halt, leaving the workers, numbering about one lakh, to fend for themselves.

Some times, when they are fortunate, they are engaged by owners to carry out sundry repairs in their homes. Earlier, they used to demand ₹500 per day for working at the construction site or at houses for carrying out repairs. But the situation has now changed for the worse.

“We are ready to work for reduced pay as we cannot return home empty-handed every single day,” said a middle-aged worker Ch. Moshe from Pernamitta.

With their desperation growing by the day, they say they are now even ready to clean blocked drains.

“We will work harder if need be. But what do we do when there is no work in the first place,” said 65-year-old Venkateswarlu from Karavadi village, 13 km from here. They find work only once in three days or so, added 36-year-old Shiva who has migrated to the city from drought-prone Pamur village.

Adding to their problems are the lockdown restrictions in compliance of which they have to disperse by 12 noon. Police do not allow them to stay there even for a minute after 12 p.m., said yet another worker Sk. Maabasha from Perlamanyam.

Financial aid demanded

Taking up cudgels for the hapless workers, Centre of Indian Trade Union leader Ch.Srinivasa Rao demanded that the government provide workers in the unorganised sector a minimum of ₹10,000 per month and free ration supply. Those hit hard by the pandemic included painters, slab workers, carpenters, electricians and plumbers.

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Printable version | Jul 30, 2021 8:38:51 PM |

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