Trade union seeks urgent measures to alleviate pain of joblessness, drastic fall in income
Trade unions and industrial associations painted a grim picture of the unemployment scenario in the country at a recent meeting of the Labour Standing Committee. The trade unions demanded urgent measures such as direct cash transfers to address job loss and wage loss, while the representatives of industries demanded a re-look at the current policies to attract investments, investment protocols, direct and indirect tax structures and infusion of technology into approval processes.
The trade unions are also learnt to have told the panel that the issue of unemployment not only entrenches within itself the micro economics of individual agents like the workers, households and businesses but also the macro economics of growth, production, unemployment, government deficit, level of imports and exports, and the government’s response and rescue measures in handling the pandemic and its impact.
According to a member of the panel, the pandemic has impacted employment severely since the early 2020. “According to an estimate, India lost 2.1 crore salaried jobs by the end of August 2020. In India, all salaried jobs put together account for only 21-22 per cent of total employment. Daily wage labourers in the unorganised and agricultural sector constitute more than three-fourths of the total Indian population. This in real numbers mean more than 10 crore workers having lost jobs. One of the study had put the figure at 12.2 crore job losses, which included 9.5 crore in the informed economy. The sudden lockdown and shutting of shops made this section lose its livelihood,” he added.
Pushed below poverty line
The trade unions also presented data before the panel that 32 crore people were pushed below the poverty line during the first wave of the pandemic. “In ILO estimation, 40 crore Indians would face more poverty. Millions from the middle class have slipped into poverty after the second wave. Data shows income of 97 per cent of the households has declined after the pandemic,” the member added.
Representatives of industries such as Assocham, CII and the Chambers of Indian Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises also briefed the panel about the situation. They seem to have told the panel that that there has been a steep fall in earnings during the lockdown period. Citing a survey by the Azim Premji University, they said there is a drop in earnings by around 40 to 50 per cent. They also cited a Dalberg survey which said there was a decline of 65 per cent in monthly income. “Citing these surveys, they told us that they came to an almost unanimous agreement that nearly 80 per cent of the urban workers lost their livelihoods during the lockdown months and the migrant worker suffered the most. This also resulted in widespread destruction and increase in indebtedness,” another member said.