April 13, 2024

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Delighting finance buffs

Covid-19 lockdown: Daily wagers, small industrial units stare at bleak future

The visuals of stranded migrant laborers various parts of the country have yet again raised the question about the livelihoods of daily wagers in the wake of the coronavirus lockdown. However, the problem is bigger than it appears. Small and medium scale industries are also staring at a bleak future.

On Saturday, Ramprasad, a migrant daily wage worker in Nashik Industrial Estate, decided to walk back to Gorakhpur in Uttar Pradesh, like thousand others who are rendered jobless due to the lockdown have nowhere to go and feel that going back to their native place will solve their problem.

“We are not getting food to eat. Our owner is not giving us money. We are not able to get any new job as well. So I have decided to walk back to Gorakhpur,” Ramprasad said.

Ramprasad is not the only one. Dharmendra from Siddharthnagar in UP or Vishal From Madhya Pradesh’s Sendhwa, working in Maharashtra, are also restless.

“I have not received my salary for three months. We want the government to issue orders to release our salaries,” Vishal said.

Dharmendra said that he does not know where to go as his employer has stopped receiving his calls.

Production in Small and Medium Scale industries has completely stopped, even before the monsoon season has started during which production is usually lesser, making it a concern for both the employers and the labourers.

Nikhil Panchal who runs a small engineering unit said with the exodus of skilled labourers and uncertainty about their return, he is worried about additional challenges than the obvious financial burden.

“We have been experiencing a slowdown for last one year. We depend on bigger industries for work. We will now also have to pay our labourers despite the situation. Another problem is that our industries need skilled labourers. They are leaving in large numbers and there is no guarantee that they will return. If they don’t, getting new skilled labourers is going to be a huge challenge,” Panchal told India Today TV.

PM Modi has appealed to industries to be considerate about the employees and not to sack them. But the lockdown has burdened the industries heavily, and several are seeking help to sustain the lockdown period.

“Small industries like us should get relief from GST. Power tariffs should also be brought down. The government is helping with provident funds, the upper limit is Rs. 15000. That also needs to be increased, “Small Packaging Industrial Unit owner Narayan Kshirsagar demanded.

(With Inputs from Pravin Thakare in Nashik)

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