Since after a nationwide lockdown was imposed by the prime minister on March 24 in order to curb the spread of COVID-19, migrant workers and daily wagers who were caught off guard have suffered without work and earnings. While many organisations in their limited capacity have been working to help the vulnerable sections of the society, Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) has stepped up and has been involved in relief work across the country.
In a report recently released by CITU Delhi NCR Committee, it detailed the work it has been engaged in during the lockdown, in and around the national capital. The report narrates how CITU has been working to ensure supply of ration and essentials for the labourers, financial assistance to construction workers and auto rickshaw drivers, and PPE for sanitation workers, while raising funds for the same.
The report read: “We would like to thank all our 584 donors sincerely. The help received from the comrades of AIDWA, DYFI, Bangla Manch is greatly appreciated. At some places, local people came forward to help us. We are thankful to them as well. We were able to distribute relief materials in many labour settlements. Along with this, ration materials, cooked food from Delhi government worth Rs. 8 lakh were also distributed. In Ghaziabad and Gautam Budh Nagar, a list of migrant labourers was provided to the district administration for free distribution of 5 ration items to each stranded worker. We also inspired several youth from localities to come forward and help the migrant workers in this hour of crisis.”
One of the important achievements of CITU during this time was to force the Delhi government to provide eight extra ration items along with the rice and wheat to the stranded labourers, said the report.
Meanwhile, along with its relief operations, the organisation has been able to add 2,300 new members into its fold.
The report also said that all the relief work has been underway while maintaining social distancing and efforts have been made to make sure that the epidemic does not spread. The organisation has also highlighted the lack of PPE and the urgent need for it to protect the sanitation workers and health workers. “We demanded free supply of gloves, masks, sanitisers, etc to the workers. At some places, we are successful in getting personal protective equipment to the health and sanitation workers. We also demanded 1 crore of compensation to the family members of the workers who gave their life fighting COVID – 19,” read the report.
CITU will also organises a protest on May 22 to condemn and stop the unjust treatment of the workers. Its report alleged, “Most of the factory owners are refusing to pay the monthly salary to the workers on the pretext of lockdowns. This has compounded the problem of the migrant labourers. They are not able to pay the rent of the rooms. They are not able to meet their basic minimum expenses daily. Unions have taken actions. However, the Labour Department of Delhi Government has refused to take any concrete action in this regard.”
To foil the “sinister plan” to snatch the hard-earned rights of the working people on the pretext of fighting COVID-19, protests will be staged at several places in Ghaziabad, Gautam Buddh Nagar (NOIDA) and Delhi, apart from a joint protest at Raj Ghat. “Central government and State governments are hand-in-gloves with the bourgeoisie who want the labour laws to be withdrawn,” the report said.
CITU’s relief work will continue as long as there is “an effective government system in place”. “The ration distribution system of the government is in disarray. We have received several complaints such as delay in getting ration on the issued e-coupons, issue of waitlisted e-coupons, delay in getting 8-items ration kits, etc. therefore, it has been decided to continue the relief operations especially distribution of ration. For this, we will appeal to our supporters to help us in this work,” read the report.