COVID-19 restrictions trigger unease among migrant workers

The COVID-19 lockdown restrictions announced by the State Government with effect from April 20 is understood to have caused unease among migrant/guest workers in Tiruchi district.

The fear of getting stranded has gripped the minds of the workers, according to proprietors of fabrication units in industrial estates in the district.

Though the number of guest workers is much lesser in Tiruchi district, when compared to Karur and other districts in the Western part of the State, their presence is of huge advantage for the industries here from the point of view of productivity.

“There was an exodus during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic and many returned subsequently. There should be at least 1,500 workers from North-Indian States employed by industries in Tiruchi,” R. Ilango president of Tiruchi District Tiny and Small Scale Industries' Association said.

Night curfew between 10 p.m. and 4 a.m. and a complete lockdown on Sundays may not be severe for the workers for now. And, the Railways has assured continuity of services.

“Yet, there is a sense of unease among the North Indian workforce as there is no certainty about how things will pan out,” Mr. Ilango said.

The practice of industry proprietors in Tiruchi region is to arrange for accommodation of the workers either inside the premises of the factories or in the vicinity so as to ensure that they are able to work conveniently for long hours. They usually work overtime, and are relatively more productive, according to a proprietor of a manufacturing unit in the SIDCO Industrial Estate at Thuvakudi.

The workers live in groups and cook food by themselves to cut down expenditure so as to support their families in their home States. Their single-minded focus on completing tasks at workplace has a direct bearing on the productivity, he said.

In the absence of regular orders from the BHEL and the escalation in the cost of steel, the fabrication units are already operating on a slender margin, and exodus of North Indian workers during the second wave of COVID-19 spread would well turn out to be the proverbial ‘last straw that broke the camel’s back’ for the industries, many proprietors fear.

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Printable version | May 9, 2021 4:57:56 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Tiruchirapalli/covid-19-restrictions-trigger-unease-among-migrant-workers/article34360900.ece

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