Essential workers across the world are facing life threatening danger to exposure to the corona virus as they put their lives on line to do their jobs. Most essential service workers have their jobs and are working to do their best, but their personal safety seems to be compromised. This is a story across the world, though cases are more rampant in the US, where many have decided to go on strike due to lack of personal protective equipment not being made accessible to them. The McDonald franchise is one such example in Florida where more than 50,000 workers have gone on strike.
Public transit drivers are also continuing to ply their buses but feel scared about contracting the infection from passengers that might be carrying them. They are trying to protect themselves through gloves and masks. Others include workers in delivery services, logistics and those operating essential services like grocery and departmental stores.
According to the staff at McDonalds, they are worried that even if they are infected and stay at home, “we get no paid leave or sick leave benefit even at such times. We don’t want to lose our jobs, but we have no choice.” Even waste collection staff feels extremely jittery about their safety. Many have shared with the media that they still don’t have face masks to wear during work hours and it has already taken several weeks for management to impose limitations on waste pickup, such as not picking up waste outside of containers.
Cab drivers that work with aggregators like Uber and Lyft continue to ply their services due to dearth of job opportunities and need for survival. They run the risk of contracting infections, have to still pay up in full as monthly rental to the hiring company and are not making enough to make ends meet. They have not been given any compensation or rendered help from the companies that have hired their services.
Essential workers would also include police personnel and firefighters, food bank staff, postal service staff, delivery staff, etc. All are facing exhaustion, fear and anxiety. While many have been provided with medical aid equipment, there is no time to rest and many are not able to meet with their loved ones and family due to fear of contraction. Unlike in India, where many entrepreneurs have generously donated to support their service providers through this tough time, the story does not look the same in western countries.