The Punjab government has issued an advisory to industries and commercial establishments in the state, asking them not to terminate employees or deduct their wages, as non-essential factories remain shut due to a countrywide lockdown to combat coronavirus.
Any employee who takes leave due to the COVID-19 pandemic should be treated on duty as also the workers of factories or units made non-operational by any government order over coronavirus, the advisory said.
Principal Secretary (Labour) V K Janjua said the department felt that termination of workforce or deduction in their salaries would hamper the morale of workers in this fight to contain the virus.
“We have issued an advisory,” he told PTI on Sunday.
Notably, on Saturday, reports emerged from neighbouring Haryana about migrant workers setting out on foot to go back to their homes in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. All modes of transport have been suspended due to the countrywide lockdown announced on March 24.
In the advisory, the labour department has asked all employers, owners of factories, shops and commercial establishments not to terminate the services or deduct the wages of their workers, particularly casual or contractual ones.
“If any employee/worker of such unit takes leave due to this pandemic (coronavirus), he may be treated as on duty without any deduction in wages for this period. If the place of employment has been made non-operational due to Covid-19 by any order/advisory of the government, the employee of such unit should be deemed to be on duty,” said an advisory.
The advisory noted that the consistent efforts of the government urging people to stay at home in the wake of coronavirus outbreak would “constraint workers to report for work”.
“There may be some cases that on this pretext, the employees may dispense with the services of the workers or force the workers/ employees to go on leave without wages/salaries,” the advisory said.
“The termination of employees from job or reduction in wages in the current scenario would further deepen the crisis and will not only weaken the financial condition of the employees/workers but also hamper their morale to combat this epidemic,” said advisory.
Meanwhile, the state industry representatives expressed apprehension that workers in Punjab might also start leaving the state as has been reported from Haryana or other parts of the country.
“Workers want to quit Punjab because they are now worried about their closed ones back home at their native places because of coronavirus. In case, workers start leaving the state, it is going to be a big crisis for the industry,” said Ludhiana based United Cycle and Parts Manufacturers Association president D S Chawla, adding that Ludhiana alone has 10 lakh labourers.
Chawla said the industry wants the state government to take appropriate steps to retain the labour force in the state.
Meanwhile, on Saturday, wages of around 30,000 labourers in Jalandhar district were released after a senior police officer met industrialists and requested them to do so.