TIRUPPUR: With the garment units opening up, migrant workers have trouble accessing free Covid vaccines. A section of workers alleged that they are charged Rs 500 by garment units to receive vaccination through private hospital programmes.
Speaking to TNIE, a migrant worker Sukumar (name changed) said, "I am working in a garment unit in Mangalam Road for several years. Due to the Covid spread, the unit was closed for several months. The management decided to offer vaccination for all the workers in the unit to run the facility. When we heard the news, we were happy that the company is offering vaccination for the workers."
"However, the happiness was short-lived as they demanded Rs 500 for the vaccination. As the management is receiving the vaccines from a private hospital for Rs 1000 per dose, they have demanded Rs 500 per worker and said that it will be deducted from the upcoming salary. It is a lot of money and it is also a workers’ one day salary,” he added.
According to CITU-Banian Workers Union’s General Secretary G Sampath, "'Demanding money from poor workers for vaccination is unjustified. This is not a new case as many companies have started implementing this inhuman practice. Many workers thought to get vaccinated from the PHCs, but as Voter ID was imposed for getting the dose, they were able to get the vaccination."
"The workers are forced to pay for the vaccine as they have not received their salaries when the units were shut. It should also be noted that the labourers are charged `500 per dose when their salary for eight-hour shifts is between Rs 350 - Rs 380. Many companies have already deducted for Covid vaccination in the weekly payment," he added.
With the shortage of vaccination throughout, many garment companies have indulged in this practice, said sources. When contacted, Collector Dr S Vineeth said, “I will make inquiries into the issue and based on the charges, immediate action will be taken.”