As coronavirus is spreading worldwide, a lockdown is necessary to avoid the infection waves in India. In this case, it becomes vital to take emergency measures for workers. Most workers in our country live on uncertain earnings, and we must include compensation for them in this critical situation.
Since today’s morning, more than 250 million people in our country are under lockdown. However, the question remains – What will the workers do about this uncertainty?
Most Workers in India have Precarious Jobs
The total number of workers with precarious jobs is much higher than what we commonly believe in our country. At least 25% and 12% of workers from rural and urban households respectively rely on casual labor as their primary source of income. A person who works in another person’s enterprise casually where he gets paid daily or periodically is known as casual labor. A casual worker doesn’t have a fixed income.
Even some regular or salaried jobs don’t come with job security.
Over 40% of the posts in urban areas are not stable. According to the most recent labor statistics, over 70% of employees with regular jobs in the non-agricultural sector have no written contracts. Half of these employees are not even eligible for paid leaves.
It is also interesting to know that the share of workers not qualified for paid leaves has risen in the last 15 years. Most of the salaried workers in non-agricultural jobs do not have any social security benefits designated to them, including health care.
The Impact of Janta Curfew on the Average Indian Worker
People are blunting the impact of the “Janta Curfew” by the fact that it was a Sunday. But is it that obtuse? Average Indian worker works nearly seven days a week. Hence, for most workers in India across different sectors, Sunday is just another day.
Such loss can quickly push vulnerable people into poverty. Especially when education, physical, and social capital is absent. People from marginalized communities like Dalits and Adivasis are more prone to falling into poverty.
What can the Indian Government do to reduce the impact of lost wages to a workforce that survives on its day-to-day earnings?
As per the International Labor Organization, we take below step to protect against job losses and worker hardship during this pandemic:
- Extending social protection
- Supporting employment retention
Workers who are not losing wages are also suggesting an income transfer. This solution is also under discussion in developed countries who are suffering hardship due to COVID-19 imposed lockdowns.
In our country, Kerala and Uttar Pradesh have announced one month’s free rations, permission for the advance withdrawing of welfare pensions, and 1000 rupees in cash for people who are poor and don’t receive pensions.
All states soon need to come up with similar plans as more of the country is waking up to life under lockdown.