Industrialists and workers associations in the city claim that thousands of workers have either been laid off or left their jobs due to cash crunch in the wake of demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes.
There are more than 10 lakh workers employed in this industrial city who work in cycle, auto parts, hosiery, machine tools and other industrial units. They are mostly from Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and Odisha. The workers are also hired by farmers during sowing of wheat and paddy.
Industrialst Badish Jindal, vice-chairman of the National Productivity Council (NPC), said workers in Ludhiana are paid in cash and the demonetisation has dealt a severe blow to them. “There are cases where factory owners have asked their workforce to stop working till the situation normalises,” he said.
“We have estimated that at least 25% of the workforce in Ludhiana has been affected due to demonetisation. They have either been sacked or migrated back to their native places,” he said.
Vinod Thapar, chairman of Knitwear Club, said a majority of workers involved in knitting, sewing and other similar jobs has gone. “My own factory where 125 labourers worked till recently is left with only 20 workers. I was not able to pay them wages in new currency notes, so they left.”
Recently, 20 labourers were laid off by an auto parts factory owner only because he was not able to pay them in new currency notes. Ranjit Singh, owner of the industrial unit, said, “I had to sack these labourers on a temporary basis as I was not able to pay them. I suffered major loss in business due to scrapping of high-value currency.”
‘BIGGER BLOW THAN DENGUE, CHIKUNGUNYA’
Meanwhile, workers’ associations claim that the workforce in the city, which was already hit by the outbreak of dengue and chikungunya, has suffered a bigger blow due to demonetisation.
Lakhwinder, president of Karkhana Mazdoor Union, Ludhiana, said, “Many factory owners are paying advance salaries to their workers in old notes. Workers are confused as they are forced either to accept salary in old notes or leave their jobs.”
Ashok Salaria, Ludhiana railway station superintendent said, “Even as we don’t have ready data on train bookings from Ludhiana to states such as UP, Bihar, West Bengal or Orrisa, there is a definite increase in the number of passengers travelling to these states.”