With just days to the celebration of International Labour Day, it is a time to reflect on the hard year that workers in this country have had since the March 2020 lockdown, which followed the Covid-19 outbreak.
Many, especially in the private sector, lost jobs. Others, such as teachers were plunged into a long season of uncertainty, wondering when schools would reopen or for those in private schools, whether the jobs would still be there.
There was also the matter of how to survive in the interim while the country was still on lockdown. We reported how teachers had sought menial work to put food on the table. It was not just the teachers who were victims of the pandemic.
Many other workers, media included, suffered paycuts or job losses. Businesses closed and their employees lost a source of livelihood.
Hardly any sector was spared. The shock of the Covid-19 shutdown on groups of people with fragile incomes was devastating. So great was the impact that workers made an extraordinary request to get mid-term access to their savings with the National Social Security Fund.
Even this, when the Bill was passed in Parliament early this year, was designed only to take care of only a fraction of savers; workers above the age of 45 and who had been contributing to the fund for at least 10 years.
This is a small fraction of yet another small fraction of the affected workers. Workers have not seen or received any particular economic stimulus, save for the promised fund for private teachers, over which there has been disagreement and talk of misappropriation. The stimulus fund meant for small and medium-sized businesses is yet to become a reality for the intended beneficiaries.
In light of the events of the past year and the resulting impacts, of which government is well aware, workers have got a raw deal. With the current financial outlook and continuing effects of Covid-19, recovery is likely to be slow for some and long in coming for a great many others.
The relevant arms of government should reflect on the needs of the workers and consider addressing the challenges in order to shore up the economy. To ignore the plight of the workers is to sabotage the very economy of which the workers are a key component.