This year’s International Labour Day was a quiet affair. There were no rallies, no sloganeerings and no formal events to mark the day, as the entire country has remained under a lockdown since March 24.

The day was particularly sombre as hundreds of thousands of Nepali workers both within the country and abroad had been without jobs for more than a month and many salaried workers left without pay or furloughed by their employers due to the uncertainty caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. Nepal’s labour force has been hit hard by the crisis, which has halted all economic activities and shut down businesses, according to labour rights activists.

Amid fear and uncertainty of job losses and pay cuts, various labour rights groups and trade unions issued a joint statement on the occasion of the 131st International Labour Day to call on the government to ensure the safety of workers.

“The government is requested to ensure all the rights of workers protected by national and international conventions during the time of pandemic and crisis, including workers’ rights of receiving their salaries and safety of their lives,” read the statement issued by Joint Trade Union Coordination Center and National Network for Safe Migration.