Two years since lockdown, migrant workers face wage loss: rights groups

Coalition says welfare schemes under four labour codes passed by Parliament have not been implemented so far

Published - March 24, 2022 06:49 pm IST - NEW DELHI

With COVID-19 infections on the wane, hordes of migrant workers roam around without protective masks and shields. File

With COVID-19 infections on the wane, hordes of migrant workers roam around without protective masks and shields. File | Photo Credit: Nagara Gopal

Two years since the first national lockdown was announced on March 24, 2020 to curb COVID-19 transmission, leading to exodus of migrant workers from cities, rights groups said on Thursday that unorganised sector workers were facing loss of wages and lack of protection.

In a statement, the Working People’s Coalition (WPC), which includes 162 groups advocating for workers, said it wanted to remind the government, the market and society that “apathy towards working people cannot be allowed to endure”. Citing an International Labour Organisation report, the WPC said informal workers in India had faced a 22.6% fall in wages after the lockdown, as opposed to 3.6% salary cut in the formal sector. The statement said there was a need to revise minimum wages.

Welfare schemes and protections under the four labour codes that were passed by Parliament in 2019 and 2020 had not been implemented so far, the WPC said.

‘In a state of paralysis’

“No State has progressed beyond publishing draft rules under the four labour codes passed in 2019 and 2020, and the Central government is yet to finalise its draft rules and notify the codes too. At a crucial time for workers, labour governance architecture is in a state of paralysis with stakeholders not clear as to what laws to institute and abide by,” the statement read.

The WPC called for recognition of migrant workers and extension of social protections as well as a national relief package for migrant and informal workers.

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