Their factories paused, owners send workers to line up for new notes

While owners say production has been hit as a result of people skipping work to withdraw money or exchange old notes, workers say they have been doing it for their owners.

Written by Sarah Hafeez | New Delhi | Published:November 17, 2016 4:01 am
demonetisation, rs 500 ban, rs 1000 ban, currency invalid, atm closed, atm queue, bank queue, worker account, low production, money withdrawal, money exchange, old notes exchnage, new notes, 2000 rs notes, indian express news, india news Outside a bank at Mayapuri in New Delhi. Source: Abhinav Saha

SINCE THE November 8 announcement that rendered old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes invalid, workers of factories in the industrial suburbs of the national capital have been spending more time queuing up outside ATMs and bank branches than on the shop floor.

While owners say production has been hit as a result of people skipping work to withdraw money or exchange old notes, workers say they have been doing it for their owners.

Devinder Singh, president, Mayapuri Industrial Welfare Association, said production had “decreased by 50 per cent and demand has fallen as well” since the announcement. “At least half the workers in each of the roughly 1,800 factory units of Mayapuri have been lining up outside banks because they have no money for food and essentials. So we are letting them stay away from work for as long as they need to,” he said.

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Workers, however, said they had been queuing up outside Union Bank of India’s Mayapuri and Naraina branches since Thursday on behalf of their factory owners.

Holding up a deposit slip of Rs 35,000 issued in his name, a worker at an iron engineering works unit, in Mayapuri Phase I, said: “My factory owner gave me Rs 35,000 in old notes and told me to deposit it in my bank account. He said he would deduct Rs 5,000 from my salary of Rs 9,000 every month till he recovered the amount. I stood for six hours outside Union Bank on Friday and deposited the amount. The owner has kept my Aadhaar card and asked for my address and details of a local guarantor and some relatives. He asked other workers to deposit money, too — some deposited lakhs of rupees.”

In Okhla industrial area, workers stood in long queues, with many saying they had been standing for hours. A “permanent employee” of Orient Craft, an export factory in Okhla Phase II’s Block B that employs around 700 workers, said, “Today, my owner handed me and 20 others in my department bundles of Rs 4,500 each to exchange at banks branches nearby. I did not mind standing in the queue for half-a-day because it’s better than toiling in the factory for eight hours. And I am getting paid my daily wage.”

Paramjeet Kaur, personal assistant to Orient Craft director Kishan Kohli, refuted the claim. “We have granted workers leave so that they can exchange or deposit their own money and wages. But the factory has not asked workers to conduct banking operations on its behalf,” she said.

Rajesh Kumar, general secretary of the Delhi unit of the International Federation of Trade Unions, said, “Factory owners are using workers to clear their unaccounted wealth. They have been targeting workers with valid bank accounts and proof of identity and those who are old and trusted employees. Owners are also paying factory workers their wages in advance, some for three or four months, all in old notes.”

He said that while most workers were “forced to do what the owners asked them to”, 42 workers in a factory in Mayapuri B-Block refused to take their wages on November 10.

Umesh, one of the workers at the Mayapuri factory, said, “Every month, the owner would deposit our wages in our bank accounts but this time, he offered us our money in cash. We boycotted work on November 10. We have not taken our salaries and are insisting that our salaries are deposited in our bank accounts.”

Workers who have accepted their wages in old notes say they have been unable to spend their money in Delhi or send them to their families in states such as UP, Bihar and Bengal.

Jasbir, a shopkeeper selling mobile phones who also works as an agent for EcoPay, a company which hosts e-wallets and remittance services, said the company had warned him against accepting old notes from labourers.

“Usually, around 20 to 30 workers come to my shop to e-transfer money to their bank accounts in villages across India. But since this announcement last week, I have not made any transfers,” he said.

In Wazirpur’s steel manufacturing units, workers say they have been surviving on the “cut” they make by exchanging money for others.

Kunal, a migrant from Bihar’s Bhagalpur district, said, “My friends and I are offering to stand in queue for Rs 500 for anyone who wants to get money exchanged at the bank. But that’s often not enough. I had to pay off all the debts I ran up last week buying vegetables and ration on credit. Now I have spent all the money I earned through cuts and haven’t paid my rent yet. I had to pay by the 10th, but luckily, the landlord has given me time till the end of this month.”

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  1. V
    Viswanath
    Nov 17, 2016 at 3:32 am
    It is support of these unscrupulous factory owners Pappu,kujliwala,Momto DD and co were raising hue and cry.
    Reply
    1. A
      ashok s
      Nov 17, 2016 at 1:54 am
      Govt should find which factory owners did what . if gullible then attached the factory and give it to workers to manage and own it
      Reply
      1. L
        l s
        Nov 17, 2016 at 12:45 am
        These rich and fat owners are the real anti-nationals. They loot the public by increasing the MRP by 2000%. Vigilence should look into this matter slowly and take action on these stash looted people.
        Reply
        1. B
          Big
          Nov 17, 2016 at 4:33 am
          This demonetization move will backfire. The Govt. has made a major miscalculation. Even now they can cancel this absurd Mohammad-bin-Tuglak like move and come to their senses. Like the compulsory birth control program knocked out Indira hi this will be Modi's waterloo.
          Reply
          1. M
            maha
            Nov 17, 2016 at 10:23 am
            Instead of worrying about the past and trying to mop up existing illegal money government would have been better advised to forget about it and concentrate on gradual demonetisation while simultaneously ensuring that the new system being put in place would reduce illegal money henceforth. Of course it may be that the government's concern is not genuine economic reform but political machinations and trying to fix our banks. For no reason we are going through stress, no one knows how long this will last and whether a clean system is at all possible with new notes that are no different from old notes.
            Reply
            1. M
              mumbikar
              Nov 17, 2016 at 12:21 am
              so now production gone down even more !!!!
              Reply
              1. V
                Vihari Naidu
                Nov 17, 2016 at 2:18 am
                I think you don't know the meaning of gullible
                Reply
                1. V
                  Vihari Naidu
                  Nov 17, 2016 at 2:20 am
                  If industrial labour are not working then there would be a loss to production. Plus there will be lower demand in the market as workers are paid only Rs.4000 instead of their complete ry.
                  Reply
                  1. B
                    Babu
                    Nov 17, 2016 at 3:55 am
                    Government should let people use their old 500 notes immediately. All these problems will be solved IMMEDIATELY.lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;Then after 6-8 months, withdraw 500 notes also. This gradual demonetization is the best way to move in India, whose economy and livelihood depends so much on cash.lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;Immediately let people use their old 500 notes. This huge problems will be solved just like that.lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;But I am sure no one will listen to this good advise and problem will continue. This my India!
                    Reply
                    1. A
                      Augustus
                      Nov 17, 2016 at 4:08 am
                      Will the BJP fools still believe that black money will be wiped off? Is this not opportunity to convert into white? Jan Dhan accounts were specifically created for this mega fraud
                      Reply
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