The Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) expressed serious concern over the Corona virus spread in the country and its severe impact on the society and on the lives and livelihood of the working people who are the most vulnerable victims of the situation.

While preventive measures being announced by the Govts from time to time and being cooperated and responded to by the people in general, the Central Govt is yet to draw a comprehensive plan to meet the gradually aggravating situation in all its facets, right from  having elaborate testing facilities with appropriate and stringent supervision covering the entire territory,  countrywide wider-public funded health care net work and also to ensuring  protection against loss of livelihood of the working people in the face of  unavoidable preventive restrictions resulting shutdowns, lay-offs, downsizing of economic activities etc jeopardizing human survival of crores of toiling people. 

In fact the neoliberal policies of the Govt directly affecting the soundness and coverage of govt-funded health care and other social services in favour of private business, has left the Govt virtually unprepared in meeting the challenge and even track comprehensively the people affected by the virus owing to very limited testing facilities compared to the size of the country as well as the population, not to speak of other elaborate preventive as well as curative interventions. Increasing dependence on import for essential pharmaceutical products/raw material is going to add to the crisis further, if not addressed through urgent remedial measure.

On the other hand, owing to scare as well as preventive restrictions, working people, both in town and villages are becoming the worst sufferers. Down-sizing and shutdowns of production, services and other economic activities  owing to restriction as well as drastic reduction of business have started  taking place and the entire burden of the same are being sought to be transferred on the working people resulting in loss of livelihoods and earnings in a big way. Informal sector workers (93 millions as per official estimate), migrant workers, casual and temporary workers, contract workers of both private and public sector are the worst affected. Already in numerous private sector entities, cut in wages, unpaid forced leave, retrenchment of the casual and contract workers started taking place. Crores of daily-wage workers in the informal sector suddenly saw their livelihood opportunities vanished.  Loss of jobs means virtual starvation, destitution and deprivation of basic health care to them putting their human survival at stake along with their dependent family members.

In such a situation the Govt must expand and augment its health care network with increased public investment and also compel the private sector health business to join the initiative to render both the preventive and curative services free.                                         

The Govt also must come out with clear cut people-oriented revival plan for the economy as a whole with increased public investment and at the same time put in place sound protection measures for the working people against loss of livelihood being fanned by the corona situation. It should not keep itself concerned over only bailing out the private financial institutions and big corporate but seriously consider protection of MSME, small retail trade and street vendors through concessional and moratorium facilities.

CITU demands that the Central Govt should announce a large-scale scheme to be implemented through the states to rescue livelihoods and provide income support to the most vulnerable.  Govts, both at the centre and the states must directly intervene without further delay

  1. to protect the livelihood and earnings compelling the private business, along with the PSU management to ensure protection of jobs, earnings and social security benefits both for their regular workers as well as the contract and casual workers in the face of ongoing down-sizing and even shut-downs
  2. Also the workers directly affected by corona virus and forced to stay away from work should be granted paid leave by the employers.
  3. No wage- cut, adjustment of leave etc should be allowed for shut-down or down-sizing of work
  4. Free rations to informal sector workers with the huge stock of food grains at  Govt-disposal
  5. Separate arrangement should be made to supply mid day meal to the residence of the entitled students in view of the temporary closure of the schools. This will also save the jobs of the mid-day-meal workers besides benefiting the students.
  6. Special safety arrangement to be ensured for health-workers engaged in serving the corona-affected or suspects
  7. Strengthen public sector pharmaceutical production entities for production of raw materials and medicines including sanitisers and other implements.

Issued by
Tapan Sen
General Secretary

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