'Poverty may hit 40 crore workers'

Updated: Apr 09, 2020, 08:04 IST | Agencies | Geneva

International Labour Organisation says in a report that the lockdown measures in India in view of the pandemic have impacted these workers immensely

A volunteer holds a placard to raise awareness about Coronavirus in Chennai. Pic/AFP
A volunteer holds a placard to raise awareness about Coronavirus in Chennai. Pic/AFP

About 40 crore workers in India working in the informal economy are at risk of falling deeper into poverty during the COVID-19 pandemic crisis. The International Labour Organisation (ILO) said in a report today that the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting 2.7 billion workers globally due to lockdowns. The COVID-19 is already affecting tens of millions of informal workers. In India, Nigeria and Brazil, the number of workers in the informal economy affected by the lockdown and other containment measures is substantial. In India, with a share of almost 90 per cent of people working in the informal economy, about 400 million workers or 40 crore in the informal economy are at risk of falling deeper into poverty during the crisis.

The ILO said that the current lockdown measures in India, which are at the high end of the University of Oxford's COVID-19 Government Response Stringency Index, have impacted these workers significantly, forcing many of them to return to rural areas. The report said that particularly in low- and middle-income countries, hard-hit sectors have a high proportion of workers in informal employment and workers with limited access to health services and social protection.

Without appropriate policy measures, workers face a high risk of falling into poverty and will experience greater challenges in regaining their livelihoods during the recovery period. The ILO noted that the COVID-19 pandemic has further accelerated in terms of intensity and expanded its global reach. Full or partial lockdown measures are now affecting almost 2.7 billion workers, representing around 81 per cent of the world's workforce.

Employment contraction has already begun on a large (often unprecedented) scale in many countries. In the absence of other data, changes in working hours, which reflect both layoffs and other temporary reductions in working time, give a better picture about the dire reality of the current labour market situation.

'Pvt labs should not charge exorbitantly'

The SC suggested the Centre should create a mechanism wherein private labs conducting COVID-19 tests do not charge exorbitant fees from public and govt should reimburse the fees. A bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan and S Ravindra Bhat was told by the Centre that earlier 15,000 tests were conducted per day by 118 labs and later 47 private labs were also allowed.

COVID-19: Govt to create larger force

Asserting that India faces a significantly higher threat from the COVID-19 pandemic, the government has decided to create a "larger force" to replace frontline workers engaged in various works to tackle the pandemic. "... As all are aware, India faces a significantly higher threat from COVID-19. India's first line of workers is already engaged in COVID relief and doing commendable job."

'Continue with Section 144 in Goa'

Most ministers in Goa urged Chief Minister Pramod Sawant to continue with prohibitory orders until the Coronavirus threat ended, even as several other ministerial colleagues called for extension of the 21-day lockdown by a few more days. Speaking to the media after a Cabinet meeting at the State Secretariat, the ministers unanimously said that the Goa government would eventually go by the decision of PM Narendra Modi.

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