Trying times for Punjab labourers, workers; demand financial assistance

Several labourers are coming to cities in search of work amid the pandemic

Trying times for Punjab labourers, workers; demand financial assistance

Photo for representation only. — Tribune File Photo

Sukhmeet Bhasin
Tribune News Service
Bathinda, May 7

Gurmail Singh travels more than 20 kilometres from his village near Bucho to Bathinda looking for daily wage jobs. The 20-year-old has a family of seven to feed at home. 

"Today, I am returning empty-handed for the fourth consecutive day, and I don't even have money for the bus fare", said Gurmail at a bus stop near the cantonment area. 

"Gurmail Singh is not alone as hundreds of daily workers—all over the state—have to face feeding empty stomachs at home," said NGO Naujawan Welfare Society president Sonu Maheshwari. 

Maheshwari urged the government "to extend the orders of lockdown or mini lockdown, then prior work arrangements for these labourers could be made". 

Maheshwari added that there are many labourers which are benefited from the Public Distribution System (PDS), but still there are several, that don't get any benefit under this scheme.  

Several labourers are coming to cities in search of work amid the pandemic. They sit idle throughout the day and head back to their village empty-handed. 

In this situation, workers are demanding that the government should arrange work or provide financial assistance, and ration during the mini lockdown.  

The second coronavirus wave has left several of them to make ends meet, and if the situation continues, it could lead to starvation. 

With an increase in case, the state govt has imposed a lockdown, which has upset small shopkeepers, and daily wage labourers along with street vendors. Workers are coming from various villages in search of work to earn a livelihood. 

Labourer Bhola Singh of Mansa said: "Since 1988, I have been working as a daily wage labourer, but never seen such a situation. We come here in the morning and go back empty-handed.”

Labourers Balvir Singh, Jasvir Singh and Gobind Singh from Bathinda said that the condition of labourers was extremely poor, and they also have to pay bus fare. 

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