Lockdown brings fresh worries for informal workers

Sohel Hossain Patwary

8 April, 2021 12:00 AM printer

The fresh lockdown has brought new challenges for the workers in informal sector in their way to recovery from the financial hardship caused by the pandemic.

In last year’s March-June period, the coronavirus pandemic has caused income loss for nearly all informal sector workers. Since June, they started recovering from that shock as the economy began to recover.

According to the labour force data, around 89 per cent of the country's workforce is engaged in the informal sector. A large part of them work on a daily and contract basis and a sizable portion works in different shops.

As the coronavirus is spreading fast, the government enforced a week-long countrywide lockdown from Monday last, slapping restrictions on the movement of people, public transport and other activities.

Following the week-long lockdown and apprehension of its extension, the informal sector workforce is now facing trouble making ends meet as they have no other options to generate income.

Due to the lockdown, informal workers and day labourers at small business entities, transport sector, construction sector, shops, restaurant, and markets have now become workless while individual small traders, street vendors and manual workers are facing extreme hardship.

The government went for lockdown leaving them with no choice or support system.

Economic experts think that lockdown slows down the economic activities and minimize the income of lower-income groups.

If the restrictions remain in force for a longer period, the government should bring some alternative solutions for the informal sector workers and labours.

Economist and former adviser of a caretaker government Dr ABM Mirza Azizul said the second wave of coronavirus has forced the government to impose some restrictions.     

“But the restrictions are affecting the country’s economy with the lower-income group, especially informal sector workers being the worst victims.”

The first spell of the pandemic shook the economy and employment and almost 10 per cent of people slipped below the poverty line freshly.

Now the government has to take measures more efficiently to take care of the economy, employment and lower-income group, he said.

Traders and shop owners continued to stage protests, demanding that the government allows them to open shops and run their businesses during the lockdown.

Bangladesh Dokan Malik Samity (BDMS) president Helal Uddin said they have requested the government to open all kinds of shops across the country.

This is because a large number of people are directly and indirectly involved in this sector. Apart from these, the construction sector and transport sectors are the two biggest hubs for the informal sector. Due to the fresh lockdown, many now remained out of their daily job and struggling to make ends meet.

Workers urged the government to go for relaxed restrictions by keeping them at works so that they can survive this difficult time.