The covid-19 pandemic has had a detrimental effect on the labour market in India.
As most industries rely on daily wage earners for their day-day operations, their absenteeism from the workforce is having a negative impact on the economy.
Industry in Andhra Pradesh too has been severely affected due to non-availability of labour and the problem here is more magnified as most of the labour in Andhra Pradesh is migrant i.e. coming from neighbouring states of Chhattisgarh, Orissa, Jharkhand, Bihar etc.
‘Most of the project works in the state are carried out by migrant labourers’ said Dr K Kumar Raja, Managing Director of K Kumar Raja Projects speaking to Vizag Industrial Scan.
As migrant workers had returned home during the lockdown, the industry now awaits their return. However with limited public transportation available industry faces a tough situation.
‘Labour now wants to come back but can’t due to little public transport. We are now therefore arranging for buses at our own costs to get them back’ said Dr Kumar Raja
Dr Kumar Raja’s company arranged for a bus to Chattisgarh to fetch 25 people from there.
Mr Akhilesh Reddy of Srinivasa transports too re-iterates the concern ‘The movement of workers is a big concern as there is scarcity of labour’. As per industry estimates only 25-30% project works have resumed. In addition they say that wages of labour have gone up by 30% while productivity has come down by 50% as the number of working hours has been reduced. Shortage of labour in the state has pushed the industry into a position of weakened economic growth, said Dr K Kumar Raja.
Concurs Mr Aashish Pakalapati of Merilyn Shipping and Transports ‘We are facing a shortage of drivers’. This he said is causing hindrance in movement of goods.
As public transport slowly gets back industry hopes that situation becomes better and workers have access to much needed transportation.
Apart from shortage of workers Mr Hakim Mehdi of the Mohsin group stated lack of timely payments to be an even bigger problem the industry faces. ‘Lack of payments by far is the most pressing issue faced by the industry. We need the government to come out with a specific stimulus package for the trading industry. We are a significant industry and play an important role in the supply eco-system’ said Mr Mehdi of Mohsin Group, one of the city’s oldest trading houses.