Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, March 29
To address the problem of migrant labourers and prevent their exodus from the state amid the COVID-19 crisis, Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh has asked all industrial units and brick-kilns in the state to commence operations with such migrants if they have adequate provisions to accommodate them safely within the premises.
Amarinder said his government was also in discussion with Radha Soami Satsang Beas, which has already offered its Bhawans as quarantine facilities, to allow migrant labourers to stay there as these people would be needed for wheat harvesting in the fields in two weeks’ time.
The owners of industrial units and brick-kilns can commence production if they have enough space to accommodate the migrant labourers and provide them with food, said the Chief Minister, while appealing to the owners to ensure that social distancing is maintained during this period.
Industry Minister Sunder Shyam Arora said, “We can start our industries immediately but with a condition that we have to provide lodging, boarding and food to the workers inside the premises of factories.”
All hygiene precautions must be made fully available at all such industrial facilities for workers, said Amarinder, adding that the owners should also make soap and water freely available for use by the workers and regularly sanitise the common facilities. Hand-wash facilities and sanitisers should be placed prominently at strategic points, said the Chief Minister.
The directions and discussions came amid reports of lakhs of migrant labourers getting stranded across the nation, and the problem assuming ominous proportions with such labourers gathering in large numbers at borders in many states, according to an official spokesperson.
The Centre has directed states to adhere strictly to the national lockdown, including sealing of the borders for human movement, to check the spread of the deadly coronavirus.
The Chief Minister said this would be beneficial for both, the industry/brick-kiln owners as well as the labourers who had lost their employment and homes in the wake of the COVID-19 lockdown, and had been left to fend for themselves.
In line with the Chief Minister’s directives, the Punjab Labour Department has also issued an advisory to employers/owners of private establishments, including industries, factories, shops and commercial establishments, etc., not to terminate their employees/workers, particularly casual and contractual workers, from their jobs, and not to deduct their wages/salary.
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