One major outcome of the lockdown for the supposed containment of the SARS-CoV-2 is the severe job losses across various sectors. From workers of small-scale industries to employees of the information technology (IT) industry, many have either lost their jobs or suffered wage cuts.
The Tamil Nadu state committee of the Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI) has launched a website to record the job losses and wage cuts owing to the lockdown. The tragic testimonies by several youths have revealed the hardships the people have faced.
‘ATTEMPT TO GIVE VOICE TO THE SUFFERING YOUTH’
The DYFI has called on the affected people to register their experience on its website. People from various backgrounds including small vendors, rural workers and employees of the IT industry have recorded their experiences in response.
N Rejeesh Kumar, state president of the DYFI, said, “The aim is to register the voices that go unheard. The youths have been losing jobs even since before the lockdown. The number of job losses and wage cuts have increased further as many corporate companies are taking advantage of the lockdown. The governments remain mute spectators and the [relief] packages are supporting only the corporates. As a youth organisation, the DYFI wants to listen to and give voice to the youths in pain across various sectors.”
The DYFI has also planned the future agitations based on the inputs received through the website. “The organisation is also getting new insights of the problems faced by the youths,” Rejeesh said.
The Union government and the Labour Welfare Department had initially asked the employers to refrain from terminations and wage cuts. But the order was withdrawn later.
“A group of 160 youths who have lost their jobs from the IT industry during the lockdown have created a WhatsApp group to chart a plan for themselves. They also registered their experiences on the website and have requested our support in overcoming the crisis. The lack of job security in the IT and ITES sector has always played in favour of the corporate giants and against the employees,” Rejeesh added.
The Union of IT and ITES Employees (UNITE) has been demanding the unionisation of the workers in these sectors to ensure job security and collective bargaining.
FINANCIAL CONCERNS LOOM LARGE
A youth, working as an accountant in the tourism industry, is staring at termination. “I am struggling to make ends meet as the tourism sector has come to a standstill. The management is now forcing me to resign. I have a family of four to look after and bank loans to pay. The situation is very tough,” he said.
A teacher working with a private school said, “I feel totally depressed at this juncture. This is one of those situations we never expected and faced in our lifetime. I am not sure how to manage my financial commitments in the coming days. There is no guarantee of what’s in store for the future”.
Another youth who lost his job as a salesman accused both the Union and state governments for the mayhem being created. “I lost my job in March. The unplanned lockdown has not permitted anyone to look for new jobs. The microfinancing companies are also increasing our sufferings. The dictatorship of the Modi government and the useless state government should answer for the sufferings faced by the people,” he said.
‘RURAL WORKERS SUFFER’
Many other people working in Chennai are unable to pay their house rents, equated monthly instalments (EMIS) and meet their medical requirements of the family members. But the impact extends to the rural areas as well.
A canteen supervisor employed at a cinema theatre has sent his wife and kids to his in-laws' house, unable to meet the expenses. “The theatres are closed from March and hence, I am living without salary. The self respect is not permitting me to seek help from others.”
Another testimony reads, “The dream of a street vendor father who wanted his son to have a respectable job is shattered now.”
Rejeesh further added, “The unplanned lockdown, similar to the announcement of the demonetisation, has shattered the livelihoods of the people. Our organisation will make demands based on the inputs we receive to ensure the job security of the youths and prevent exploitation by the corporates”