Central trade unions on Thursday urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to announce a financial package of Rs 5-7 lakh crore for the worst-affected segments of the working population, saying their survival is in jeopardy due to the lockdown in the country.
"We demand that the government immediately announces not less than Rs 5 to 7 lakh crore package both to meet urgent need of combating Covid-19 as well as for protection of means of survival for the working people who are worst affected by the unavoidable lockdown situation," 10 trade unions said in a joint letter to the Prime Minister.
They stressed in the letter that saving the people's living and livelihood must be considered integral to the COVID-19 combat strategy.
The ten unions that wrote to PM Modi include INTUC, AITUC, HMS, CITU, AIUTUC, TUCC, SEWA, AICCTU, LPF and UTUC.
They also demanded the announcement of concessions and debt moratorium for the MSMEs, small retail traders, street vendors, self-employed, who have been hit hard by the 21-day lockdown imposed in view of the rapid spread of COVID-19.
The unions noted that daily wagers, casual labourers, migrant workers, agriculture workers, self employed as hawkers and vendors, rickshaw pullers, e-rickshaw/auto/taxi drivers are facing livelihood crisis. Others like truck drivers and helpers, coolies/porters/loaders and unloaders, construction and beedi workers, domestic workers and waste pickers are losing their livelihood in the lockdown situation.
Their very human survival has been put in total jeopardy as they lost their only means of their income and sustenance due to lockdown situation, the letter said.
The trade unions also wrote that the door-to-door delivery of essentials like medicines, hygiene materials, vegetables/fruits and other food items must be allowed and facilitated.
They suggested that the government should immediately check the black marketing and hoarding of essential commodities.
Workers need immediate income support/financial relief, free ration and free fuel for cooking.
The supply of essential grains and necessities from the public distribution system (PDS) should be made with immediate effect from the existing stocks instead of waiting till April.
They also demanded that the registered workers under various welfare boards be provided Rs 5,000 as urgent measure.
The unions said the government's Economic Taskforce, headed by the finance minister, was only busy in announcing extension to deadlines for filing IT returns, GST, about TDS or the cases under Bankruptcy Act benefitting mainly the defaulters among the big businesses but there was no announcement made for the 40 crore of about 54 crore working people whose survival is at stake.
Mere appeal by the government or advisory by the Labour Ministry is not at all working to prevent loss of employment and earnings in the process of lockdown, they added.