Labour shortage haunts Pune units due to migrants’ exodus

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Published: May 15, 2020 5:15 AM

Industries in and around Pune are staring at a severe shortage of labour in the coming days as 1,08,000 migrant workers from the region have registered to return to their home states.

 Around 40,000 people have already left and nearly 10,000 will leave on Friday.This is the second wave of exodus by migrant labour from the Pune division.

Industries in and around Pune are staring at a severe shortage of labour in the coming days as 1,08,000 migrant workers from the region have registered to return to their home states. Of these, around 40,000 people have already left and nearly 10,000 will leave on Friday, Pune divisional commissioner Deepak Mhaisekar said.

At a meeting organised by the Mahratta Chamber of Commerce and Industries (MCCIA), representatives from industry raised the issue of labour shortage. Representatives from industry said that even as they had permission to restart operations and were gradually ramping up operations, they were faced with the challenge of labour shortage. Most of the units in industrial estates on the outskirts of Pune were operating at around 25% of capacity. They were also seeing cases where workers were demanding higher wages and labour contractors were luring workers away. Industry representatives added that they were facing problems in moving their existing workforce to their factories in industrial estates.

Mhaisekar said wages were a result of the current gap in demand and supply so industry would have to reorient their hiring plans and consider recruiting people from the local population. He said this shift would call for special efforts to train people and create an alternative workforce to work with so that industry could get on with their business. Industry should work on absorbing workforce from the local population and carry out short-term training programmes for the required skills as the exodus of labour could not be stopped.

“We are counselling workers to remain here and return to work and it is working in some cases as we are seeing around 15% to 20% ticket cancellations,” Mhaisekar said. However, a large section was still determined to return and they could not be forced to stay back.

This is the second wave of exodus by migrant labour from the Pune division. A significant number of migrant workers left in mid-March when the first round of lockdown was imposed by the Maharashtra state government. The next wave of labour movement started from May 11 with people leaving Pune, Satara, Kolhapur, Sangli and Solapur to return to their home states in Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Uttarakhand, Bihar, Odisha and West Bengal.

Around 35,163 people left in 28 trains while another 17,290 left by buses and four wheelers. Another 9,368 will leave on Thursday from Pune and 3,000 from Kolhapur by train. The administration was trying to arrange more trains to accommodate more people but this was dependent on the consent from other states. Uttar Pradesh is not willing to take in people without testing so it caused a delay in sending people back. On Thursday, around 6,000 workers from an industrial estate in Kolhapur started marching on the Pune-Bengaluru national highway demanding seats in trains to go to UP and the district administration and police officials had a tough time dealing with them.

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