With the third wave of COVID-19 rising exponentially across India many stringent curbs have been imposed on various economic activities, which are likely to be made more stringent within few days. Consequently, the already deteriorating labour market is likely to deteriorate further, and domestic workers and daily wagers would suffer the most as we have already experienced during the first and second waves of the pandemic.
As the cases of infection started rising again, domestic workers are increasingly losing their jobs because they are being asked by their employers to stop coming to their houses for work till further easing out of the pandemic. Many markets have been already shut down, establishments closed, educational institutions put on holidays, and the presence of physical workforce reduced to half or even less both in government and private establishments, have started disrupting economic activities and movement of the people. Daily wage earners are already seen to be affected the most, and if the pandemic worsens they would be in great trouble. Both the domestic workers and daily wage earners in large numbers might soon find themselves without any economic source to even feed themselves.
2022 has begun with such a high rate of infection of COVID-19 that the country has never seen before threatening overwhelming of our medical facilities once again in the near future, making the revival of the economy uncertain. The economy has just been recovering from the adverse impact of the first and the second wave of the pandemic but could not be able to sufficiently revive the labour market.
Thus the majority of the workers, especially the daily wage earners and domestic workers, will have to suffer greatly in case the pandemic situation worsens, which seems to be most likely the case. It should be therefore most wise decision on the part of the Centre and the states if they prepare themselves with contingency plans to save our working people on priority basis not only from the COVID-19 virus but also from the impending loss of livelihoods. The painful experience from the first and second waves and consequent lockdowns and containment measures must not be allowed to reappear again. It’s an extraordinary time and therefore we need extraordinary measures that too within a few days before the third wave peaks up disrupting the economy and the labour market. Social security measures need to be strengthened at war footing.
Dr Gyan Pathak