Hospitality, security, BPO sectors could suffer

The mass exodus from Chennai of people belonging to the North-East is likely to create a labour shortage in certain sectors. Many of these migrant workers are employed in the hospitality, security and construction sectors. If they do not return, these sectors could be hit hard.

The exodus of those from the North-East living in Bangalore started a couple of days ago on rumours that they may be the target of attacks, following the ethnic trouble in their home States. This rumour quickly spread to Chennai and Hyderabad. Hundreds of people left for their home towns yesterday and many are waiting at the railway station for their turn to leave.

J. Srikala, who runs a beauty parlour in Triplicane, Chennai, said that last evening two of her employees from Assam left for home following the panic. “They were very tense and just left,” she said.

According to the manager of Hotel Priyadarshini Park, two boys from Mizoram working at the restaurant are not planning to leave the city. Kanan, from Mizoram, says he was not aware that there is a problem.

There is no official data on the number of persons from the North-East working in Tamil Nadu.

‘temporary phase’

According to E. Balaji, CEO, Randstad India, a recruitment company, most people from the North-East work in the hospitality industry. Many of them work in the healthcare sector. Business process outsourcing is another popular choice for them, thanks to their English-speaking abilities. Some of them work in organised retail as well.

If the exodus continues, these sectors will take a hit. “It can be just a temporary phase, where they will return after the panic settles down. The big challenge is when this becomes a permanent movement,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister, J. Jayalalithaa, today assured workers from the North-East living in the State that they were safe.

“It has come to my notice that people from the North-East who are living in Chennai are worried about their safety due to recent happenings in Assam. I would like to assure them that they need not have any apprehension on this count. The police are already taking care of their safety. Tamil Nadu has always been peaceful, and my Government will ensure that people from all parts of India living in the State do not face any difficulty,” the Chief Minister said in a statement.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated August 18, 2012)
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