May Day: unemployment reaches 24 per cent, priests to donate a month’s salary
by Nirmala Carvalho

Due to coronavirus, unemployment rose from 7-8 per cent last year. Widespread poverty has favoured bonded and child labour. Diocesan employees will receive their March and April salaries, this despite the lockdown. Priests have been asked to donate their holiday allowance.

Mumbai (AsiaNews) – This Labour Day is “difficult to celebrate” because “many people are no longer workers, but jobless,” said Bishop Allwyn D'Silva, chairman of the Labour Commission of the Archdiocese of Bombay (Mumbai), in a message released for May Day.

Job losses are due in part to the pandemic crisis and the government's decision to lock down the country. “In mid-April, the unemployment rate rose to 24 per cent, up from 23.8 per cent in the last week of March,” explained Bishop D’Silva. “This was a steep rise from an unemployment rate that ranged between 7 and 8 per cent in the preceding year.”

According to the National Sample Survey Office, unemployment has been rising for years reaching its highest level in 45 years in 2019.

“In India,” reads the bishop’s message, “due to the policies adopted during the last two decades, agricultural workers and other sections in the informal sector are losing jobs.

“The number of bonded labourers and child workers, though banned by law, are increasing day by day due to poverty.  The trafficking of women and children is a by-product of the market economy.”

Now the lockdown has created a vast jobless army, people without money, food or a roof.

In light of the situation, the Archbishop of Bombay, Card Oswald Gracias, has launched an aid programme, which includes food distribution and shelter for migrant workers in some Church facilities. Bishop Allwyn D’Silva is one of the organisers.

To help diocesan employees, who have not worked for two months and face many hardships, Card Gracias ordered that the salaries of March and April be paid in full.

He also called on priests to give up their holiday allowance to help the Archdiocese meet its needs.