Nations must address labour abuses fuelled by COVID-19

On 30th July U.N. special reporter Maria Grazia Giammarinaro said the abuse of vulnerable workers – such as those deemed as essential – had increased “alarmingly” due to COVID-19, leaving many facing starvation and forced to accept exploitative conditions.


Covid-19 has created an unprecedented upheaval in India.  It is estimated that more than one crore (ten million) migrant labourers have been displaced in the first two weeks of the lockdown.[1]


The centre or state government clearly have no systematic understanding of their existence and had not anticipated the scale of the migrant exodus.  India is now in a desperate to re-start business/Industries and re-build economies. Industry needs labour. But now labour has gone some say they will never return.


In such scenario Indian industry/business is in search of people to fill the gap. It is dangerous to start in a hush and employ people, especially minor children, who are unskilled and have no knowledge of machines.  There is high probability children once again will be the centre of exploitation and child labour. In India it is forbidden to employ workers less than 17 years of age for arduous, unhealthy or hazardous work.


Story of 17 year old Akbar whose life has changed under COVID-19 New Normal


Boisar one of the suburban area of Mumbai, it is located 102 KM from Mumbai on western line. This town is one of the centres for Mahrashtra Industrial Development Corporation. On the night of May 25th 2020, 17 year old Akbar along with his friends were picked up from their home at a nearby slum in Boisar and taken to the factory for work. He was promised wages of Rs 200 per night. Due to COVID19 distress situation at home he willingly agreed and went along with his recruiters to work. On the very first night he was put on to work on a machine without any prior training. His recruiter briefly explained the work and left him. The result was that he lost his right hand in the machine. He was taken to Mira road hospital from Boisar by the company and promised all the treatment and the compensation. He was discharged from the hospital after few days. Mother Sayara chose to stay in the hospital with her son and was not in a state to run around the police station He was promised a job in the company and good money. No FIR was filled. In this tragic accident case hospital too failed to do the mandatory reporting to the police. The employer has backed out from the promise he made of welfare of this child whose life will never be the same.


Akbar is the son of our Beneficiary/volunteer Sayaqa living in Boisar, Mumbai. She is bravely facing all the odds of life, which has been full of tragic incidences.



Names changed to protect their identity for safety reason

Doing the right thing,
at the right time.