Almost three months after industries in Gurgaon were permitted to resume operations with 100 percent staff after the lockdown, imposed amidst the Coronavirus outbreak, came to an end, industries in the district continue to operate with only “60 to 70 percent” of their staff, with fear of the infection, alternate jobs that people have secured in their villages, and current events such as the floods in Bihar, hindering the return of workers.
“A lot of the labour has returned but there is still a shortage, industries are working at around 60 to 70 percent of their capacity. Although some workers are still returning, there are around 10 to 15 percent who are looking to either delay their return further or not come back at all. For example, those who have faced a lot of hardships before returning home, or have walked home, they are not willing to come back. Then there are people who have secured employment in their hometowns or villages or who are fine in terms of finances, for who money is not such a big issue, who also reluctant to return,” said Deepak Maini, General Secretary of the Haryana Chapter of the Federation of Indian Industry,
Manmohan Gaind, Vice President of the Manesar Industries Welfare Association (MIWA) also reiterated this, stating that “things are pretty stagnant” in terms of labor.
“Things are pretty stagnant in terms of labor right now because of the floods in Bihar and some part of UP, which have acted as a big hindrance. For the last 7 to 8 days, there is hardly any labor returning. People cannot come because either there is floodwater in their homes or roads are flooded…The labor right now is around 60 percent,” said Gaind.
“The problem right now is how to deliver on the orders that are coming in, because there is a shortage of labor, which is also not limited to your factory, it is there in the whole ecosystem. Dyers, embroiders doing outsourcing for factories, for example, are also facing labor problems,” he said.
This labor shortage too, however, office bearers of industries’ associations maintain, is hitting some organisations harder than others.
“For big companies, labor is not so much of a problem because their salaries are very high, so whatever labor is returning, the big fishes are taking them. The problem is more for smaller industries. However, even bigger industries will be facing problems where they have casual or contractual workers, who are not available right now,” said Ashok Kohli, President of the Chamber of Industries of Udyog Vihar, adding that the absence of local people who are skilled or willing to work in place of the laborers who are yet to return is further exacerbating the problem.
Referring to the proposed ordinance to reserve 75 percent jobs in the private sector for residents of Haryana, which was passed by the state cabinet earlier this year, he said, “There is no local labor. Dushyant Chautala is saying to reserve 75 percent jobs but none of his people are willing to work, and they also lack skills. We would welcome local people if they are available but even now, if you put a board outside your gate that helpers are required, sometimes people do come, but they leave within a day or so, they are shy of doing hard work.”
“It is mostly labor from UP and Bihar which is habitual of working since they leave their homes and have to depend on the salary for themselves and their families,” he said.
Officials anticipate that the situation, which they had hoped would normalize by mid August, after Rakhi and Eid were over, will now only improve massively in November, after Diwali.
“It will likely take after Diwali, once Chhat Puja is done, for the labor to actually come back in the correct number. It will likely be November by the time this happens,” said Gaind.
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