CITUs Press Release dated 19.04.2021
SURGE OF COVID PANDEMIC
GOVT MUST RESPOND RESPONSIBLY
INSTEAD OF PLAYING CRUEL INSENSITIVITY TOWARDS PEOPLES’ MISERIES
Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) expresses its grave concern at the alarming spread and intensity of the second wave of Covid 19. The number of new cases recorded during the last five days has crossed 2 lakh a day, crossing 2.7 lakhs on 18th April. The number of daily deaths has reportedly risen five times in a month.
The country is facing the worst health crisis. CITU is appalled at the total unpreparedness and utter insensitivity of the government to meet this second country wide surge.
The inability and lack of concern of the BJP government in containing Covid 19, protecting livelihoods and saving lives was evident from the beginning. Over one year ago, it imposed 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 third largest number of deaths due to Covid in the world
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. There is serious shortage of vaccines, testing facilities, hospital beds, ventilators, oxygen, medicines and above all trained personnel – doctors, nurses and other medical staff. The front line 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 the one hand they are blaming people for not following social distancing and other Covid protocol, 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.
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. Instead of assuring them of protecting their jobs, incomes and residences, the finance minister has assured industry that there would not be full lockdown.
CITU demands that the BJP government at the centre should take immediate measures to protect the lives and livelihoods of the workers and other common people. It demands the government to take the following measures immediately:
· 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
· Cash transfer of Rs 7500 per month for all non income tax paying families
· 10 kg free food grains per person per month for the next six months
· Ramp up vaccine production and ensure free vaccination for all within a definite time frame
· Ensure adequate hospital beds, oxygen and other medical facilities to meet the Covid surge
· Strengthen public health infrastructure including recruiting the necessary health personnel
· Ensure non Covid patients get effective treatment in government hospitals
· Ensure availability of protective gear, equipments etc 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.