Chandigarh, April 14 : Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Tuesday urged the Centre to reconsider its directives asking industry, shops and commercial establishments to continue paying full wages to their workers during the COVID-19 lockdown period, as it may push them to bankruptcy.
He urged the union government to look for innovative solutions to protect the interests of the workers, in these difficult times, without causing irreparable damage to the industry and commercial establishments.
The Chief Minister has written a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking reconsideration of the order of the Ministry of Home Affairs, issued under the Disaster Management Act, 2005.
The relevant part of the order reads: “That all the employers, be it in the industry or in the shops and commercial establishments, shall make payment of wages to their workers, at their workplace, on the due date, without any deduction, for the period their establishment are under closure during the lockdown.”
This part of the order, said the Chief Minister, needs reconsideration “as this will have huge financial implications for industry as well as shops and commercial establishments in the state and may push them to bankruptcy as the income of most of these units has completely stopped due to lockdown”.
On the other hand, Amarinder said, the workers, especially the low-paid ones, could be deprived of their income for no fault of theirs.
The Chief Minister termed it as imperative that the Centre should reexamine the matter and explore some innovative solutions “whereby the interests of the workers can be protected without impairing the financial health of commercial and industrial units beyond repair”.
Meanwhile, the Petrol Pump Dealers Association (Punjab) President Paramjit Singh Doaba told IANS that dealers are in a financial mess with the lockdown.
“A majority of the dealers have run out of capital because sales have dropped by 70 to 80 per cent,” he said.
Added Gurmeet Monty Sehgal, Petrol Pump Dealers Association spokesperson, “The government should give bank interest waiver, salaries of the staff and credit guarantee on fuel given to farmers and transporters during the lockdown.”