The Nepal Trade Union Centre (NTUC) and the Construction and Allied Workers' Union of Nepal (CAWUN) have demanded that the government address their serious concerns over the vulnerability of the workforce during the COVID-19 lockdown, including informal, migrant workers and health workers.
The NTUC submitted a set of demands to the Nepalese government calling for the establishment of clear and transparent mechanisms for the disbursement of wage relief to those that are dependent on daily wages, essential PPEs with enhanced insurance quantum for all health workers, safe return of migrant workers, expand quarantine facilities and implementation of house rent exemptions.
CAWUN President J.B. Gurung said that construction workers, daily-wage labourers and migrant workers are the worst affected by the lockdown. “We urge the government to ensure the food and shelter requirements of workers across the country and utilize simpler and more transparent procedures for claiming relief.”
Meanwhile, the NTUC reported that they have extended relief and assistance to workers affected by the pandemic. Some of these include the distribution of food packs, workers’ assistance in the preparation of claims at the local level and free transportation for internal migrant workers seeking to go home to their native villages.
The groups also said that they are active with their respective COVID-19 awareness campaigns on social media and in lobbying both government and employers to implement measures to protect workers from the impact of the crisis to their health and livelihood.
“Through our unions, we have distributed thousands of food packs and launched COVID-19 awareness and prevention campaigns. We pledge to continue to lend support to government efforts to contain the spread of the virus and minimise its harm to the economy,” Gurung said.
On 29 March, the government announced a COVID-19 relief package for workers such as food supplies, contribution to social security fund and tax relaxations. However, unions said that these were inadequate to cover the needs of a vast number of workers across sectors.