April 25, 2021

Appalled at Utter Insensitivity of the Government, CITU makes 8 demands

THE Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) expressed its grave concern at the alarming spread and intensity of the second wave of Covid 19. It said that the country is facing the worst health crisis and is appalled at the total unpreparedness and utter insensitivity of the government to meet this second countrywide surge.

The CITU slammed the government for failing to assure migrant workers of protecting their jobs, incomes and residences and instead the finance minister has assured the industry that there would not be full lockdown. It said that the local and regional lockdowns and curfews are being imposed in several states creating uncertainties about the work and income for the working people, the migrant workers and unorganised sector workers in particular. Reminiscent of the migrant workers’ march around one year back, migrant workers are reportedly again heading to their native places, it said.

It demanded the central government to take eight immediate measures to protect the lives and livelihoods of workers and common people. It demanded the government to ensure wages without any cuts are paid to all workers wherever lockdown or curfew are imposed and they are not able to go to work.

The CITU demanded a cash transfer of Rs 7,500 per month for all non-income taxpaying families and 10 kg free food grains per person per month for the next six months. It also demanded the government to ramp up vaccine production and ensure free vaccination for all within a definite time frame.

They demanded that the government should ensure adequate hospital beds, oxygen and other medical facilities to meet the Covid surge, strengthening public health infrastructure including recruiting the necessary health personnel. Ensuring that non-Covid patients get effective treatment in government hospitals and to make protective gear, equipments etc., available for all health and frontline workers and those engaged in pandemic-management work including ASHAs and anganwadi employees along with comprehensive insurance coverage for them all are among the other demands.

While the number of new cases recorded during the last five days has crossed two lakh a day, crossing 2.7 lakhs on April 18, the number of daily deaths has reportedly risen five times in a month, it reminded. It slammed the BJP government for its inability and lack of concern in containing Covid 19, protecting livelihoods and saving lives was evident from the beginning.

“Over one year ago, it imposed a sudden lockdown without any preparations. It did nothing to step up health infrastructure, to help workers and others who lost their incomes and livelihood by way of providing cash transfers, free food grains etc as demanded by the trade unions, eminent economists and others. It did nothing to protect migrant workers who lost their jobs, incomes and even shelter and marched back to their villages. At the same time, it failed to contain the disease and related deaths. Despite the harsh lockdown, India has the second-largest number of infected persons and the third largest number of deaths due to Covid in the world,” Tapan Sen, general secretary of CITU said. 

“Caught unprepared, despite the warning about a second country wide wave,  the BJP government is now trying to blame the people, the state governments and everybody except itself for the surge with much more intensity and speed. This is nothing but the height of irresponsibility and insensitivity on the part of the BJP government at the centre,” the CITU said.

The CITU stressed that there is a serious shortage of vaccines, testing facilities, hospital beds, ventilators, oxygen, medicines and above all trained personnel – doctors, nurses and other medical staff.  It said that the frontline workers and employees are overworked and lack adequate protection.

“Instead of addressing these serious issues, BJP leaders including union ministers are engaged in shifting the responsibility to the state governments. On one hand, they are blaming people for not following social distancing and other Covid protocol, and on the other they have been, till a few days ago, encouraging huge congregations of people as in the Kumbh in Haridwar and continue to address huge election meetings ignoring the protocol,” it said.