Facing lack of labour, Ludhiana industry doing all it can to bring back migrants
The efforts include airlifting workers from their homes to booking train tickets and arranging any other transport, to sending money to help them financially
Reeling under crisis ever since the lockdown was announced in the country, the Punjab industry heaved a sigh of relief during the last week of April when industrialists were allowed to resume operations.
Their hopes of revival, however, soon dashed, when the Railways started Shramik special trains to ferry lakhs of migrant workers back to their hometowns. A month later, the industry is currently facing a massive shortage of labour and industrialists are now doing all they can to bring the workers back.
Factory owners of the city, a hub of the state’s cycle, hosiery and sewing machine industries, have been airlifting the workers from their homes, booking train tickets, arranging taxis or simply sending money to them to arrange their transport back to Ludhiana.
As many as seven workers reached Ludhiana from Patna by air via Delhi last week as their employer booked air tickets for them.
Bobby Jindal, owner of Balaji Processors, a blanket manufacturing firm, said, “Prior to the spread of Covid 19, the strength of workers at my firm used to be 250, on an average. Soon after the government started Shramik trains in May, I was left with fewer than 50 workers at my unit. The labour now wants to come back. I booked air tickets for seven master workers, who took a flight from Patna to Delhi and then from Delhi to the Sahnewal airport in Ludhiana only last week.”
“I arranged two taxis and also booked train tickets to bring back others. I have already spent close to Rs 2 lakh on bringing back 50 workers in the last few days,” he added.
Charanjit Singh Vishwakarma, former president of the United Cycle Parts Manufacturers Association (UCPMA), who owns cycle parts manufacturing units in the city, said he has already sent money to three of his contractors in Bihar, who employ around 30 workers each.
“As trains have not fully resumed, workers are finding it difficult to get confirmed tickets to come back via trains. The government should start the trains to bring them back also,” he said.
Punjab industries minister Sham Sunder Arora, who held a meeting with industrialists last week at the Circuit House here, had said that the migrant labour wants to come back and he had arranged two buses to bring back workers to Hoshiarpur on June 4.
Vinod Thapar, president, Ludhiana Knitwear Club, said, “All efforts are on to bring migrant labour back. “Summer stuff has already taken a hit as market was closed. Our effort is to see that now the sale of winter stuff is not affected as this is the peak time for us,” he added.
Harkirat Singh Rana, president, Hazuri Road Hosiery Association, said reservation of train tickets is a major problem being faced by workers.