On Sunday, the CM said 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. (File photo)
To prevent the exodus of migrant labourers from the state amid the COVID-19 crisis, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Sunday asked all industrial units and brick kilns in the state to commence operations if they have adequate provisions to accommodate such labour safely within their premises.
The move, however, was met with opposition from industry representatives and even the IMA. Both urged the state government to rethink its decision.
Meanwhile, the state recorded its second coronavirus death on Sunday as a 62-year-old patient died at the Government Medical College Hospital in Amritsar.
The patient, a resident of Hoshiarpur, had come in contact with the first coronavirus casualty of the state – a 70-year-old man who died on March 18.
On Sunday, the CM said 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. He appealed to the owners to ensure that social distancing is maintained during this period.
All hygiene precautions must be made fully available at all such industrial facilities for workers, said Amrinder, 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 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 Government of India 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.
Amarinder reiterated his government’s commitment to ensure that nobody, including such labourers, daily wagers etc, are deprived of food and other basic necessities in this hour of crisis.
In line with the Chief Minister’s directives, the Punjab Labour Department 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.