In march 2020 COVID- 19 started terrorizing our country of 1.3 billion, preying on innocent souls their physical as well as emotional wellbeing. COVID- 19 has affected the entire globe, in all manners and arenas. It is estimated to have caused an adverse effect on economies. The 2.8 Trillion US Dollar economy has been put to a grinding halt, encompassing all within its canvas, small employees, sole proprietors, and migrant workers to big MNCs. Our GDP dipped further, as global GDP slipped by 10%. The SENSEX recorded a sharp decline, slipping from 4000 in February to below 2500 in April. Further, the unemployment rate soared from 9% to 26% in two months with 45 core workers losing jobs.
Impact of COVID-19 on Social and Emotional life
Coronavirus has significantly reduced human social interaction and consequently affecting their emotional wellbeing. Recent studies have shown that pandemics have shown universal spikes in anxiety, depression and anger. In India, the rate of deaths by suicide also hyped by 4.2 % just recently. A panic like situation is created nationwide. An alarming increase in cases of abuse, domestic violence and sexual assault are a serious blow to the emotional health of our society. The assault and abuses hurled at health workers, in particular, concealment of travel history, violation of lockdown and safety norms by some people, has worsened the scenario, exposing a myriad of threats to the life of fellow human beings.
Impact of COVID- 19 on Migrant workers
Migrant workers have been the victim of ignorance by the government even prior to the lockdown. Condition during this crisis has now worsened. Government is pretending that migrant workers do not exist. There were no guidelines laid, or any contingency plan or any coherent response. Nirmala Sitaraman also put her foot back in the bed and refused to spare a word or two for these poor, starving souls. In a matter of four hours, the unforeseen public health catastrophe provoked an even larger humanitarian crisis, the burden of which has to be carried by the most susceptible section of its population. The decision unleashed such chaos that India is still struggling to deal with.
Unprecedented changes in Indian Labour Laws
Petition filled in Supreme Court
The main argument here is, since the Code of Wages is suspended the Payment of Wages Act is re-appealed, there is no obligation for the factories and establishment give timely wages to their employees. It can be seen that this ordinance has led to the abolition of minimum wages of labourers.
Migrant workers are the most vulnerable to the loss of employment and wages during an economic crisis, many workers are stranded due to termination of transport. Lockdown in labour camps can heighten the contamination problem. Neither locking them up is a solution nor leaving them on roads will do the job. Desperate times need intense efforts. It is high time we introduce new laws, think what will happen if this part of the society suffers even more? A country is a combination of all kinds of people with different backgrounds and different social status without them there is no us. Eventually, after some decades the lower middle class will be suppressed, latter on the upper-middle class. The government turned its face from the needy. It is high time, that amendments be made in the Labour Laws incorporating reforms requisite to curb the arbitrary salary cuts and to ensure minimum wages. Ration must be made easily availability with food, shelter and health care facilities for the underprivileged. A proper mechanism and timely implementation is necessary during the times of such catastrophe.
Has the government gone blind? These labours are also the citizens of our country; they too are governed by the same laws and are entitled to Fundamental Rights enshrined under the Constitution of India. The world, especially the stakeholders need to understand the fact that, the Migrant workers are not only labour-power of the economies but also the equal citizens. The pertinent question which pops-up “Is justice costly?” Although, our government has rolled out many packages for the citizens in distress, but has it pondered over the need of having a bank account. It is well known that in India, a large section of society don’t have basic documents such as a birth certificate or adhaar card? Isn’t this hypocrisy?
The author of the post, Ms. Priyanshi Kholia is a Law Student from Aligarh Muslim University & was an intern at MyLawman. She can be reached at priyanshikholia2000[at]gmail[dot]com.
This article has been reviewed and edited by Samreen Ahmed, Research Assistant, Research & Innovation Department (ARIL), MyLawman.