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PRIVATE SECTOR

Companies Paying their Daily Wagers During Covid-19 Lockdown

 

DLF

Realty major DLF Chairman K P Singh has announced that salaries will be paid to all its daily-wage workers and active contractors to help them meet their daily expenses during this current nationwide lockdown. The salary will be paid directly into their bank accounts to provide immediate funds to them. Along with this, they have also pledged to make all hygiene and sanitation supplements available to them like masks, sanitisers and and gloves. The company is also providing food and lodging services to the staff along with allowances for buying provisions for their families. In case of emergencies it has arranged for ambulances. 


District Administration – Noida

The district administration has allowed 28 days' worth of salaries to be paid to persons infected with coronavirus or in isolation for treatment. The Gautam Buddha Nagar Administration also announced that shops, industries and factories will have to pay their daily wage workers normal salaries during this closure period. To ensure smooth execution, it has announced that they can charge the offender under Section 51 of the National Disaster Management Act which provides one year imprisonment or financial penalty or both and two years of jail if violation of the order which causes any loss to life or property.

 

Labour Ministry

On March 20, the Labour Ministry issued advisories to the employers’ associations not to terminate their employees (especially precarious workers) and reduce wages for their absences, among others. Quoting a couple of State Governments, Orders dated March 22 invoked EDA and directed that this period should be treated as a paid holiday for employees in shops and establishments (Telangana) and private establishments (Delhi). The Government of Maharashtra has ordered all workers (contract, temporary and daily wage) in private factories and shops to be paid full salary and allowances during this lockdown period. Violaters will be booked under Section 51 (b) of the NDMA. 

 

Tata Sons

Tata Sons chairman N. Chandrasekaran has largely enabled a ‘work from home’ environment for its employees. To ensure stability, they will also be paying full salaries to their temporary workers and daily wage earners for the months of March and April 2020 even if the workers are unable to work due to either quarantine measures, site closures, plant shutdowns or other reasons due the outbreak of Covid-19. Other segment of focus is the micro, small and medium enterprise (MSME) and the group companies will be monitoring them to ensure dues to these enterprises are paid on an immediate basis in order to provide liquidity. Excluding situations of delivery of products or services for the larger public good, employees are mainly working from home. 

 

Mobile companies – Oppo and Vivo and Lava. 

Chinese giants Oppo and Vivo have ensured that their workers in the Greater Noida factories won’t be denied salaries during the lockdown despite production being suspended because of it. Oppo’s Greater Noida factory houses about 4,000 workers while Vivo’s has around 10,000. Lava International has paid 20% of the salary to its workers 12 days ahead of the scheduled date. Lava’s Noida plant has a workforce of 3,500 and a manufacturing capacity of 3 million units per month while 2 million units are exported every year.
 

Vedanta 

Mining giant Vedanta has set up a Rs. 100 crore fund which is focused on catering towards the livelihoods of daily wage workers, employees and contract workers along with preventive health care. It has announced not to cut salaries or to fire any staff, including temporary workers during the period of this crisis. It has also decided to provide a special, one time insurance to cover Vedanta’s employees against their families against Covid-19. 

 

Gems and Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC) 

Industry organisations like the Gems and Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC) are also stepping up to do their bit for the large unorganised workforce. It will contribute a fund of Rs. 50 crores from its reserves to be utilised to aid the daily wage workers employed in the gems and jewellery industry, since they have been rendered jobless due to the cancellation of export orders. This industry employs more than five million in work force. 

 

Job Creation NGOs

GOONJ 
 

Understanding the importance of protecting the daily wage workers and preparing them for returning to work after the lockdown, the NGO Goonj is involved in another initiative apart from the food distribution drive it has so enthusiastically been carrying out. It is focused on providing support and sustenance to people across India who will be facing the biggest distress post pandemic, the daily wagers. It is planning to address the material needs of the families by reaching out with comprehensive family kits of essentials – largely dry ration, personal care materials. Along with this it is approaching to stabilise them with its one time tested Vaapsi initiative (restoring livelihood) - meaningful employment locally to people across low income group in the rural and urban India. 

For more information: https://goonj.org

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GOVERMENT

Can MGNREGA be the answer to Daily Wage Worker distress caused by COVID-19?

The people of India not only need to fight to save their lives from the deadly corona virus but also their livelihoods, feels Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The worst-hit amid the spread of novel corona virus disease (COVID-19) are no doubt the poor, especially the Daily Wage Workers living in urban areas of the country. On the one hand, the poor face the burden of health due to shortage of infrastructural facilities and on the other hand, they will face the heat of poverty due to loss of livelihood.

 
 

This is how government plans to help MGNREGA workers during Covid-19 lockdown

Each state will focus on individual asset creation under MGNREGA that requires 4-5 workers and allows for social distancing. All payments are to be expedited.

DELHI:

 

  • To protect the rural poor from the economic impact of the corona virus outbreak, the government has decided to expedite the transfer of cash under the Direct Benefits Transfer (DBT) scheme while laying emphasis on ‘individual asset creation’ under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA).

 

  • Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had also said the government is preparing a relief package for sectors reeling under the impact of the corona virus outbreak. Currently, over 400 central government schemes have been brought under the DBT platform.

 

CHENNAI:

 

  • More than 82.67 lakhs active workers of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act ( MGNREGA ) scheme in Tamil Nadu will heave a sigh of relief as the state government on Thursday passed an order allowing resumption of work under the scheme with certain riders. The scheme was a safety net for more than 60 lakhs women in the state.

 

  • Collector K. Rajamani said and added that the administration would resume the work in 105 of the 228 panchayats. 

 

  • He had also asked the officials on ground to ensure that the personal distancing norm was maintained in such a way that the distance between one worker and another was two meter. And, if any worker showed fever or other COVID-19-like symptoms, alert the block medical officer.

Administration would resume the work in 105 of the 228 panchayats.

KOLKATA:

 

  • Due to Below-par performance of the guaranteed jobs programme, consistently low crop prices and a slowdown in construction that employs surplus farm hands may combine to dent the positive impact of the Centre’s cash transfer and targeted welfare schemes for rural wage earners, for whom the impact of the Covid-19-induced lockdown could be rather acute.
     

  • Unusually lower agriculture prices, slowdown in the construction sector and below average performance of the MGNREGA programme have contributed to lower farm incomes, deceleration in rural wages and loss of employment in the rural sector and, more so, in the wake of Covid-19.

 

LUCKNOW:

 

  • Lucknow: Close to one lakhs card holders, under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) in Uttar Pradesh, are yet to get their wages for the months February and March.
     

  • Mismatch of beneficiary account details are stalling the release of money by the Centre, said state government officials.
     

  • UP was one of the first states to announce welfare schemes for the poor and daily wage earners after the lockdown was announced. 

 

  • All pending MGNREGA dues would be cleared by the end of March. Accordingly, on March 30, the CM had transferred Rs 611 crore to the accounts of more than 27 lakh beneficiaries. 

UP was one of the first states to announce welfare schemes for the poor and daily wage earners after the lockdown was announced

  • What is needed is a scheme which will help tide over the transition between jobs. The person/ household, rendered destitute, needs a short-term unemployment benefit which will tide them over till the principal earner gets a job again.

 

  • On the analogy of MGNREGA, an income payment for 100 days for unemployed urban workers is worth introducing. They could be put to work on schemes for cleaning up, waste collection or any other task which is urgent. It is not much, but more than they have now.

 

 

CASE STUDY

The rural job scheme can not only provide a great opportunity to jobless workers but also push the water conservation drive

 

The top three components where the maximum work has been focused are: works on individual lands, water conservation and water harvesting and drought proofing.

 

Water Conversation

 

The major work of the water conservation drive under the new Jal Shakti Ministry is routed through MGNREGA; but the scare of the virus has reduced such work and the money spent this financial year on water-related work is just 21.6 per cent of all the work.

The major work of the water conservation drive under the new Jal Shakti Ministry is routed through MGNREGA

Latest Updates On MGNREGA and government initiatives to help Daily Wage workers

 

  • Starting Wednesday, the rural development ministry will also start clearing the backlog of MGNREGA wages and material assets that have been created. In the current fiscal, there are 8 crore job holders registered under MGNREGA.

  • The Parliament recently approved the second supplementary demand for grants to the tune of Rs 5,000 crore. This will be used to clear the delayed wages of workers by 31 March

  • To ensure that the lockdown does not impact the livelihood of the rural poor, the Union rural development ministry has also told states to focus on giving work involving “individual asset creation” that require maximum four to five workers.

  • Under MGNREGA, individual asset creation involves building farm ponds, digging wells, horticulture-related activities among others.

  • This involves up to a maximum of four to five workers and can easily be carried out while practicing social distancing.

  • This will ensure the worker has his livelihood even during this period of public health crisis. 

  • On Tuesday, the Union labour ministry also issued an advisory to chief ministers of states and lieutenant governors of union territories, directing them to transfer funds into the accounts of construction workers through DBT mode from the cess fund collected by the labour welfare boards.

  • On Monday, the government had also allowed states to collect food grains on credit from the Food Corporation of India, for a period of three months.

A maximum of four to five workers and can easily be carried out while practicing social distancing.

CONCLUSION

  • The daily wage workers have moved long distances for a job in which they have neither security of employment nor proper housing. Losing a job, even temporarily, means starvation. 

 

  • In the present situation, the loss is temporary but there is no knowing how soon the lockdown would end and the old job or a new one becomes available. What is striking is that there are a large number of people in this situation trapped in Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru. If MGNREGA made us aware of the urgency of tackling rural underemployment, the COVID-19 crisis should wake us up to a large urban population which also needs help.

 

  • The migrant workers, (some with families living on pavements) want to rush back. Where they are heading may be home but there are no jobs there. Their  best option may not be to rush back to the village, but to wait for the next job.

 

 

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