April 05, 2020

CITU Urges PM to Provide Food, Shelter to Migrant Labour

THE Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), on March 30, wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and urged him to make special arrangements for food, shelter and health check-ups for the lakhs of migrant workers during the corona lockdown period. It warned that failing to take appropriate measures would lead to mass starvation and a huge loss of life.

The CITU said that it is shocking to see lakhs of migrant workers walking for hundreds of kilometres with children and elders to reach their native places. “Many were thrown out of their rented accommodation by the house owners. With their survival under threat, they were compelled to throw precaution to the air and come out in lakhs, defeating the very purpose of the lockdown and putting at risk their own health as well as the health of their fellow citizens,” the union said.

CITU said that many of these workers were thrown out of their jobs and have been starving for the last few days. In many places the police have been resorting to measures like lathi charge and booking of cases against these hapless migrants, treating them as criminals. These workers who have been playing a vital role in the economy are being treated without any sensitivity for their sufferings for no fault of theirs, the letter said.

Despite the government orders to take measures to quarantine on March 24, they are not being implemented strictly even after a week. “The ministry of home affairs has issued another order today for strict implementation … to stop the movement of migrants and providing them with quarantine facilities, shelters, food etc and ensuring payment of wages and non eviction by their landlords... Its strict implementation needs to be ensured.” the letter to the prime minister read.

The CITU urged the PM to ensure through statutorily enforceable measures and proactive enforcement and not by just advisories, that all workers including migrant workers are not removed from their employment and are paid their wages and that they are not vacated or forced to pay rent by the house owners.

It asked the government to ensure a strict compliance in coordination with the state governments of the directions that migrant workers are provided shelter and food and that nobody goes hungry.

The union also sought extensive health checkups and provision of medical aid at all the camps. It also asked the centre to expand testing facilities, strengthen health infrastructure by providing adequate isolation beds, quarantine wards, trained staff with proper protective gear to combat the spread of the virus.