Not all migrant workers have returned, say industrialists

May 25, 2023 01:03 am | Updated 01:03 am IST - COIMBATORE

Several migrant workers who went home during February-March due rumours over their safety are yet to return to work, say industry association heads here.

“We are waiting for the workers to come back. Workers’ shortage is heavy in all units and across sectors. There is hardly any flow of workers from other States. We do not know the exact reason [behind this],” says R. Ramamurthy, former president of Coimbatore District Small Industries Association. “We and the MSMEs, too, should gear up to skill the local workers,” he added.

Coimbatore Tiny and Small Foundry Owners Association president A. Sivashanmuga Kumar said only 50% to 60% of the workers were back. “So, foundries in the small-scale sector are unable to operate at full capacity even though there are orders,” he said, adding that larger units also faced labour shortage and, hence, orders from these units were distributed among the foundries in MSMEs.

According to J. James, president of Tamil Nadu Association of Cottage and Tiny Enterprises, almost 40% of the migrant workers had not returned to Coimbatore. While the micro units where family members operate the machinery try to run for 12 hours a day or so, those with workers from other States were struggling, he said, adding: “Micro units were hit by slowdown in orders till a few months ago. Now, when there is a revival of orders, there are no workers.”

In the construction sector, there is over 20% shortage. While not all the workers employed here have returned, new workers have joined the sites here. “But, there is still shortage of workers,” said K. Viswanathan, former vice-president of Builders Association of India.

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