Demand to bring workers back grows as industrial production takes a hit in Ludhiana
Owners of all large, medium and small-scale manufacturing units in Ludhiana are currently working with 40 to 50% labour capacity or even lessUpdated: Aug 02, 2020 00:08 IST
Even as they are spending lakhs of rupees arranging special buses to bring workers back from states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Jharkhand, the industries reeling under labour shortage are struggling to meet the rising demand.
With the shortage hampering production and adversely affecting supply, the demand to bring labourers back by arranging special trains is only getting louder.
Owners of all large, medium and small-scale manufacturing units in Ludhiana are currently working with 40 to 50% labour capacity or even less. The district, which is a hub of cycle, hosiery and sewing machine industry, had seen migration of as many as 4 lakh migrants to their native states in May and June when the government arranged special Shramik Trains for them.
Considering that many left for their native places on foot, cycles and vehicles arranged on their own, the actual figure of migrants having left the state is much higher than the official figures.
In June, state industries minister Sham Sunder Arora had written to the central government to start special trains to ferry the migrants to Punjab. While no such special trains were started, a number of industrialists arranged private buses to bring migrants back. But those came at a high cost and a minuscule number of workers actually returned.
“We are calling up the workers to come back but there are no special trains. Due to the shortage, there is a 15-day waiting period to supply cycles to our dealers. If the government started trains to send the labourers away, why is it not arranging trains to ferry them back?” said Omkar Singh Pahwa, chairman-cum-managing director (CMD) of Avon Cycles and president of the All India Cycle Manufacturers Association (AICMA).
On Thursday, in a video conference with Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh, the industrialists rued shortage of labour. The CM assured them of taking up the issue with the Centre to bring back migrants to the state, said Sibin C, director, industries and commerce, Punjab.
“Slow production is also resulting in revenue losses to the government. With floods ravaging Bihar, the migrants are only staring at uncertainty,” said Rahul Ahuja, chairman, Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).
DS Chawla, president, United Cycle and Parts Manufacturers Association (UCPMA), said, “The demand for cycles has risen. We are short of technicians and skilled labour.”
SS Bhogal of Ludhiana-based Bhogal Cycles said the labourers are also scared of the 15-day quarantine period. “All the prior stocks have exhausted. The smooth functioning has definitely taken a hit in the absence of labour,” he said.