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Cheapskates & Bringing Home the Bacon

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Adeel Mukhtar Mirza
Assistant Research Officer (ARO) at Islamabad Policy Research Institute (IPRI)

As we think about the Novel Coronavirus (or COVID-19), the pandemic is causing huge death toll and financial anarchy. The Chinese, Americas, Australia, Europe, Africa, Asia all are grappling with its immensity and outcome.

The lethal infection carries with it the third and most prominent monetary stun of 21st century after 9/11 and 2008 economic crisis. First indications of pestilence’s consequences for China’s economy are far more awful than the underlying forecasts. The official information uncovers a far reaching lull in its financial action and means the infection caused a 20 per cent GDP decrease in the initial two months of 2020. Moreover, the US financial exchange took just 15 days to dive into bear, which is a 20% drop from its pinnacle.

As governments force exacting lockdowns and shoppers remain at home, businesses are among the most hit segment. The International Air Transport Association cautions that infection can cost overall air bearers between $63 billion and $113 billion in 2020.  Except if governments around the globe stop Covid-19’s movement and loosen up social-separating controls too early, the human cost and financial effects will remain noteworthy. The coronavirus is truly undermining the strength of whole budgetary framework. National governments have proclaimed clumsy reactions to the virus so as to pad their economies. Right now is an ideal opportunity to utilize strategies to moderate the monetary aftermaths and secure the vulnerable segments in our social orders.

In these testing times of COVID-19, the Government of Pakistan (GoP) should especially find a way to relieve the monetary effect of COVID-19 on its most powerless laborers. Closing of industries will have colossal monetary ramifications for laborers in low-pay families. The GoP ought to embrace estimates shielding laborers from enduring pay losses resulting in driving them in destitution. This can be the only way to discourage them from self-segregating to avoid the proliferation of COVID-19. According to the Brad Adams of Human Rights Watch (HRW), “the Pakistan government should take measures so that the loss of livelihood and income doesn’t compound the threats workers face to their health.” “The economically marginalized are among the most vulnerable groups affected by COVID-19, and the government should urgently find ways to protect them.” “The government’s failure to enforce labor laws has contributed to garment and textile workers being among the most vulnerable segments of Pakistani society,” Adams said. “The Pakistani authorities should meet their obligation to protect workers while considering necessary measures to curtail the spread of COVID-19.”

The GoP has declared fractional or complete lockdowns. All industrial facilities not creating basic things have been shut. As per different estimates, “between 12.3 million and 18.5 million individuals in different divisions may lose their jobs.” This has exacerbated industrial facility terminations and cutbacks. There is a hazard that a huge number of laborers in occupations connected to the worldwide economy will be constrained into low maintenance work for less salary or lose their positions.

Among the manufacturing plants requested to close down are material and clothing production that utilize Pakistan’s biggest mechanical workforce. An absence of composed work contracts, deficient legitimate assurances, and poor authorization of work laws and guidelines could increase the issues during this emergency. Pakistani work laws and guidelines are not enough assurance to laborers in the country. As indicated by a report by “Clean Clothes Campaign”, 85 per cent of industrial and clothing laborers in Pakistan need formal agreements and in this way are not enrolled with the common standardized savings foundation.

These financial shutdowns disproportionaty affect female laborers as well. On March 28, 2020, the Pakistan Workers’ Federation and Women Democratic Front requested that “women workers, who are often invisible within the system, be accounted for and brought into official lists for wage provision and financial support.” GoP should, to the greatest degree of its accessible assets, give low-wage laborers help to counterbalance the monetary hardship.

On March 23, the Sindh government forbidden industrialists and business owners from laying off workers during the lockdown, and asked them to guarantee pays. The Sindh government has likewise set up a tripartite instrument with agents of businesses, laborers, and government to manage compensation grievances. The Punjab governments have declared financial bundles for organizations and laborers and regularly scheduled installments of PKR 3,000 (US$20) and PKR 4,000 ($27), separately, for laborers who lose their jobs.

However, Mafia in Sindh, rather than giving relief to daily wagers is throwing them out of factories without any precautionary measures. Factory owners who are multi billionaires cannot even facilitate transport for Laborers and protection gear. This issue needs to be investigated and perpetrators are caught and exposed. Questions should be raised by media for Sindh Government regarding what measures Government of Sindh is taking to help daily wagers and take action against factory owners who are not even giving pays to laborers.

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