COVID-19 third wave hits workforce strength in MSMEs

In small industries, the absence of even one person can have a ripple effect on normal operations, according to industry sources.


The third wave of the pandemic is causing huge productivity losses and delayed deliveries for Micro Small Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) in Karnataka as upto 20% of their workforce is currently on sick leave due to flu or COVID-19, according to industry players and trade body sources.

D.R. Subramanyam, Managing Director, SLN Technologies, a city-based indigenous electronics system design and manufacturing firm specialising in strategic electronics for aerospace, defence and nuclear industry said most small-scale units would have one person for one function, and if that one person does not report to work the whole operation of that firm suffers.

“Even one person’s absence can have a multiplier effect on small businesses. The continuity breaks down, workflow slows down, the normal operations get affected. It is a chain reaction. If the cutter does not turn up, the tailors won’t have any work to do. So the productivity loss could be even 100% in some cases for some industries. With the third wave, 15% of SLN Technologies employees are on sick leave, on rotation,’‘ Mr. Subramanyam,who is also a CII Karnataka State Council Member, added.

Echoing similar sentiments, R. Raju past president of Karnataka Small Scale Industries Association (KASSIA) and proprietor of Ven-Gree Metal Punch, a firm based in RajajinagarIndustrial Estate said, said rising absenteeism has been hampering the delivery schedules, especially when the sector was already trying to fight back several odds such as the soaring price of raw materials, decreasing demand in the retail market and government’s apathy.

”MSME sector is under the attack of some kind back to back. Entrepreneurs used to take pride in creating wealth and jobs. But today, running any small business comes with inexplicable misery. I don’t know how long we can carry on like this especially when the government has no will to support the sector,’‘ said Mr. Raju.

Thallam Venkatesh former president FKCCI and Managing Director, Press Tools and Elements, argued that the MSME sector was in deep trouble even before the pandemic, as one of the key industries, the auto sector, was going through a tough patch.

The trade body representatives have been asking the Union Government to pay some compensation to MSME workers from the unclaimed pool of thousands of crores of rupees of ESI and PF funds. “Third wave is causing alot of anxiety and uncertainty for entrepreneurs and workmen alike,’‘ added Mr. Venkatesh.

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Printable version | May 12, 2022 9:54:39 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/covid-19-hits-workforce-strength-in-msmes/article38314405.ece