Feenzu Sherpa

During International Workers’ Day, every year, there are two things one can observe around you. The first one –everyone shares images of workers and the other one – workers don’t even realize the day’s significance and rush towards their work.

The ones who should have full privilege on this day are the ones who don’t really care about this day because of the fact that there is no reason to be joyful on this occasion. The minimum wage announced by government for a person is less to even fulfill their daily needs.

Even though Nepal government, in coordination with Ministry of Labor, announced minimum daily wage to be Rs. 517 and monthly earning to be Rs. 13,450 – under Section 106 of the Labor Act, 2017 (2074) effective from July 17, 2018 (2075-04-01), many workers are not getting even the minimum salary – let alone! social securities and other benefits.

Government, the one who created the law, itself doesn’t back-off when it comes to depriving public from their rights. Doctors, nurses and security personnel – real heroes during the pandemic crisis who are saving lives – are yet to be handed the incentive allowance they were promised.

The Ministry of Finance has acknowledged that the required amount has not been disbursed to the concerned body yet. The medical personnel who are working with substandard protective gears and security staffers who are working with just cloth-mask as a protective gear are putting their lives on risk.

However, government doesn’t seem to respect their efforts and contribution – today’s stimulus package for daily wage workers backs up this statement.

Nepal government has introduced the second phase of stimulus relief package targeting the public and also businesses hit by the coronavirus pandemic which was approved by High-Level Committee on Sunday.

The informal sector workers who have been unemployed due to the COVID-19 pandemic will be deployed in public works carried out by the local, provincial and federal governments. Those who agree to work will either be paid in cash on a daily basis or provided with food equivalent to the wage fixed by local levels.

Meanwhile, unemployed workers who refuse to work in the designated areas provided by the government will be paid only 25 per cent of the relief or wage that a worker gets.

According to the government, necessary resources for providing jobs to unemployed workers in the informal sector will be mobilized through the Prime Minister Agriculture Modernization Project, development projects under local governments and the COVID-19 Relief Fund of the government.

Ironically, although the government has stated they have choice, the truth is they don’t! With no cash to even buy food they will have to choose to work in order to put food on their plates. While the nation-wide lockdown is implemented to ensure security of public – why are they being employed and sent to work?

The government who can’t provide PPEs to all frontline staffers – will it provide PPEs to these workers? If incase, these people get infected what will happen to their relief package scheme? Isn’t government just adding burden over medical personnel by exposing these workers to risk?

The government mocks May Day.