More than 400 contractual workers engaged by small companies that were supplying grain flour and spices to Nestle for preparing Maggi noodles are in dire straits.
After the popular instant food was banned and taken off shelves across the country, the suppliers, who are facing the heat, have started sacking their workers.
Nestle India’s largest supplier of spices, Moga-based Paras Spices Ltd, has already ended services of “some workers” out of its 200 temporary employees.
Nestle India, however, hasn’t fired any of its permanent workers yet and is engaging them in different activities. But the company hasn’t taken a long-term view on their future in case the ban on Maggi prolongs.
“We have 115 workers who have been working on the Maggi line here at the Moga plant. After the Maggi production stopped, we have redeployed some of them to other units, while we are engaging others in training activities and team building exercise,” Nestle India factory manager (Moga) Satish Srinivasan said.
He said none of the permanent workers involved in manufacturing of Maggi at the Moga plant have been retrenched.
The worst hit have been contractual workers of private flour and spice factories in the area. Sources said several more workers can be sacked in the coming days as orders have dried up.
Factories such as Bhai Flour Mills Moga, Gilco Agro Private Limited Ludhiana, Golden Wheat Mills Jagraon, Lakshmi Flour Mill Ludhiana and Paras Spices Private Limited were supplying more than 250 tonnes of flour and spices to Nestle every month.
Proprietors of these factories say the ban has come as a blow to them. “If the Maggi crisis prolongs, the livelihood of hundreds of more workers would be hit.
Our business has gone for a toss. We were providing nearly 20 tonnes of high quality flour to Nestle every month, but now the supply has been suspended,” said Sukhpal Singh, managing director of Bhai Flour Mills.
Paras Spices Ltd is already looking for new customers after ban on Maggi. “We have about 200 temporary workers, while some of them have been asked not to come, some have been asked to report only twice or thrice a week,” Paras Spices Director Paras Budhiraja said.
He said the company, which has an annual turnover of `115 crore, was supplying about 45% of its production to Nestle India.
“We were supplying around 200 tonnes of spices per month to Nestle. That has been affected. Now, we are trying to find new customers and in future we would try to reduce large dependence on a single client,” Budhiraja said.
Nestle’s Moga plant procures an average of 11 lakh litres milk every day from 33 districts of Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan. A bulk of it (70%) comes from Amritsar, Gurdaspur, Bathinda, Batala and Moga. Apart from Maggi, Nestle’s Moga plant manufactures baby milk (lactogen), condensed milk, milk powder and desi ghee.
With PTI inputs