TODAY -

Why are workers most affected by the scorching heat ?

Priyanka Saurabh *



The recent heatwave in India has worsened the working conditions of daily wage workers, especially delivery personnel, brick kiln workers, and daily wage laborers. The scorching heat has highlighted the harsh working conditions and challenges faced by open-air workers. In this scorching heat, many are forced to work in the open and in hot weather. If they do not work, they will not be able to cook food at home. This is their only means of survival.

Such people are often forced to live in extreme poverty. Deprived of basic amenities like clean water, slum households suffer the scorching heat under tin or tarpaulin roofs. Since these jobs are mostly done in the open, these people are also at a higher risk of falling ill in the scorching heat. Ongoing efforts and new initiatives should be developed to meet their needs, ensuring their well-being and financial security.


The recent heatwave in India has pushed temperatures above 45 degrees Celsius in many areas, adding to the challenges faced by daily workers, especially delivery personnel and daily wage laborers. Workers engaged in such open-air work have suffered from heat exhaustion and dehydration due to prolonged exposure to extreme weather conditions without adequate health-safety measures and minimal breaks, leading to untimely loss of lives.

Daily workers work on short-term contracts or freelance work rather than permanent jobs. This includes temporary, flexible, and project-based work through digital platforms such as Uber, Swiggy, and Zomato. These jobs offer flexibility, but these people lack the benefits and protections associated with traditional employment.

If they donít work, they wonít have food to cook at home. It is their only means of livelihood. Such people are often forced to live in extreme poverty. Deprived of basic amenities like clean water, slum dwellers endure sweltering heat under tin or tarpaulin roofs. Since these jobs are mostly performed in the open, these people are at a higher risk of falling ill in the scorching heat.

Such workers often do not have access to health insurance, retirement benefits, or paid leave, leaving them financially vulnerable in times of illness or injury. Workers' income is highly variable and unpredictable, making financial planning difficult. Workers face harsh working conditions, including exposure to extreme weather. They are usually classified as independent contractors, depriving them of many labor protections that formal employees receive.

In such difficult times, workers need to be provided with protection and fair treatment. For social security and health benefits, it is important to provide social security benefits to workers, including health insurance, maternity benefits, and pensions.

For example: The Rajasthan Platform Based Workers (Registration and Welfare) Bill, 2023 aims to provide social security to workers, which will set an example for other states to follow. To establish a minimum wage policy for workers to ensure a stable income and minimum paid hours or earnings. For example, Singapore's proposed legislative changes include expanding work-injury insurance and pension coverage for workers, which India can also emulate.

Recognizing workers as employees or providing them with equal rights and protection is the need of the hour. This includes the right to organize and form unions. For example: Legal battles in the UK and California have led to workers being recognised as employees, entitled to a minimum wage and other benefits.

To ensure safe working conditions that include protective gear, regular breaks, and measures to protect workers from extreme weather. For example: Guidelines have been issued in India to promote fair treatment and grievance redressal mechanisms, but these need to be strengthened.

Establish independent labor courts and ensure they can resolve cases promptly and fairly. For example: Qatarís labor dispute committees have improved access to justice, but delays and enforcement issues remain, requiring further improvement.

It is also important to undertake skill development programs to enhance the employability and earning potential of workers. This should include training in financial literacy and digital skills. For example: Government initiatives like Skill India can be expanded to specifically target workers to provide them with relevant skills and training.

Using digital platforms to simplify registration and access to welfare schemes and integrate worker data into the National Labour Database to improve service delivery will help create schemes beneficial to workers. For example: India's e-Shram portal, which aims to create a national database of unorganized workers, can be leveraged to include workers to ensure they receive benefits on time.

Comprehensive and well-implemented measures are needed to protect the rights of workers in India and ensure fair treatment of them. Social security, legal recognition, better working conditions, access to justice, training, and better digital infrastructure are important steps towards a fair labor economy.

The governmentís ongoing efforts and new initiatives must continue to evolve to meet the needs of this growing segment of the workforce, to ensure their well-being and financial security.


* Priyanka Saurabh wrote this article for e-pao.net
The writer is a Research Scholar in Political Science
and can be contacted at https://twitter.com/pari_saurabh
This article was webcasted on June 21 2024 .



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