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Posted at: Dec 4, 2016, 1:40 AM; last updated: Dec 4, 2016, 1:40 AM (IST)

Migrant labourers pack their bags, courtesy demonetisation

‘Act against officials for poor execution of demonetisation’

  • Avtar Singh, president, Chamber of Industrial and Commercial Undertakings (CICU), has appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to take action against officials responsible for poor execution and implementation of demonetisation. He appealed to the PM to provide immediate relief to the trade and industry by relaxing the cap on withdrawals, ensuring faster supply of requisite currency to banks, providing micro ATMs at industrial chambers for withdrawal of cash and introducing other innovative solutions to mitigate problems being faced by trade and industrial sectors. He said the industry was suffering due to unplanned demonetisation and poor execution as factory workers don’t have bank accounts and it had become difficult for them to pay wages to workers. The scheme had put a dent on production and sales as prices of raw material had increased due to less availability of cash and low stock. Fall in production and losses in the industrial and trade sector would have a cascading effect on other sectors of economy, he said.
Migrant labourers pack their bags, courtesy demonetisation
People stand in a queue outside an ATM in Ludhiana. Photo: Inderjeet Verma

Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 3

Industries continue to face labour and workforce problems, courtesy demonetisation. Labourers too are facing the heat of the move. While some are leaving work voluntarily as they are not being paid cash, others are being laid off by industries due to a dip in the production because of the lack of demand and sale.

Most of the labourers in factories are daily wagers, who were being paid in cash by industrialists on a daily basis prior to the move, but with cash having dried up in banks, they have been left in the lurch.

A majority of the labourers don’t have any bank account so payment through money transfer or cheque is not an option. Even those who have bank accounts are not willing to accept cheques because of long queues.

Sarabjit Singh, an industrialist, said labourers in his factory stopped coming to work as they could not be paid. Satnam Singh, owner of a unit manufacturing cycle parts, said more than ten per cent of his labourers had left because of the cash crunch.

Most of the labourers, being migrants, are leaving and going back to their native places in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and other states. “It has become difficult to even arrange two square meals a day as there is no money and no work. Back in village, we at least got something to eat,” says Eshwar Prasad, a labourer who works at an auto-parts manufacturing factory.

Even factory owners have been laying off their workers. A couple of shawl factories have laid off hundreds of labourers. A noted hosiery unit on the Jalandhar Bypass road too has reportedly laid off a large number of labourers due to a slump in the market.

“Due to the lack of demand in the market and low sales, production has hit rock bottom. There is little work for labourers. Besides, we don’t have so much cash to pay. We have no choice but to ask them to leave,” says the owner of a hosiery manufacturing unit.

Badish Jindal, president, Federation of Punjab Small Industries Federation, said, “A significant number of labourers have left factories owing to cash crush. We fear that around 40 per cent of them would leave by December 10, if the situation doesn’t improve.”

For migrant labourers hailing from Uttar Pradesh, the upcoming elections in the state is also a factor. “People generally get sops and freebies during the elections and with little work here, they are going back to the state in large numbers,” he added.

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