Shri Santosh Kumar Gangwar, Minister of State (I/C) for Labour and Employment held a Webinar with the Central Trade Union Organizations (CTUOs) today at New Delhi to discuss the emergent situation arising out of COVID-19 pandemic and to minimize its impact on the workers and on the economy. These issues include (i) Protection of the interest of Workers and Migrant Workers in view of COVID-19, (ii) Measures to generate Employment, (iii) Measures to be adopted for restarting economic activities and (iv) Measures to improve situation of MSME to enable them to discharge their liabilities under Labour Laws. Senior officers of the Ministry of Labour and Employment, representatives of all CTUOs participated in the Webinar.
The Minister informed about various measures taken by Ministry of Labour and Employment to mitigate the problems of workers during COVID-19. He also pointed out that there is a need to find solutions to the challenges for workers resulting from the national lockdown imposed due to COVID-19. He asked the Central Trade Union Organizations to suggest measures that could be taken to deal with the present situation of the workers and improve their welfare.
The following suggestions were given by the representatives of the Central Trade Unions:
- To provide more trains to transport the migrant workers stranded in various parts of the country. These labourers may also be provided with financial assistance to run their families and may also be facilitated to return to work once the situation gets under control.
- Creating a National Register for migrant workers/ unorganized workers with the facilities of portability and data transfer to help the migrant labour in getting employment and other assistance;
- Supporting MSMEs, particularly small and tiny industries through measures like interest waiver/restructure of on loans, providing subsidized electricity, etc. There is also a need ensure proper supply of raw material to these industries;
- Government need to work out strategies for sectors like hotels, cinema, sports, automobiles; severely affected due to lockdown
- Providing subsidy to small and tiny industries in wage component so that these employers are able to pay full wages to all workers for the lockdown period, etc.
- ASHA/Anganwadi volunteers who are doing a commendable job in reaching out to the victims of the pandemic need to be properly incentivised.
- Workers who have lost jobs due to lockdown should also be provided cash incentives.
- The working hours to the workers should not be increased during this time
- Strict implementation of the labour laws and advisories issued by Ministry of Labour & Employment regarding payment of wages and non-deduction of salaries.
- Monitory assistance, free supply of ration and medical facilities to the unorganized workers and daily wagers
- Government to procure the farm produces so that the farmers can pay wages to the agricultural workers.
- Train fare not be taken from the Migrant Workers going back to their home
Concluding the discussions, the Secretary, Labour and Employment welcomed the suggestions given by the members of the CTUOs. He clarified that no train fare has been taken from the migrant workers. He said that a database of migrant workers in various states to monitor their situation is being collected in coordination with the States. 20 Helplines/Control Rooms have been set up to resolve any issue relating to food, payment of wages to workers or any other issue of workers arising due to COVID-19.
The Labour Secretary stated that the focus should now be on reviving the industry and gradually opening of economy, so that there are adequate employment opportunities. He requested the representatives of the CTUOs to instill confidence among the workers to resume work wherever possible and assured that Ministry of Labour and Employment is committed to provide all the help in case of any problems faced by them.
A separate Webinar with the representatives of the Employers Organizations will be held on 8th May 2020.