Amid migrant workers’ exodus, Maharashtra industry feels need for 'atmanirbhar' labour

Radheshyam Jadhav Pune | Updated on May 22, 2020

File photo   -  Reuters

Unemployed youth in State should grab opportunity, say stakeholders

Over 50,000 industrial units in Maharashtra that have resumed operations over the past few days are facing a severe labour shortage, thanks to the exodus of migrant workers. This has left the industry players and policymakers with the thought that some atmanirbhar (self-sufficient) labour may come in handy.

Over 70,000 industries in the State have sought permission to resume operations, said Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray in a recent address. He added that over 5 lakh workers have joined work in over 50,000 units.

“Industries in the Green Zone have started operations. But there is a shortage of labour as migrants have returned to their home States. I appeal to the locals to step in and fill the gap. Local workers should take the opportunity and join the workforce to make Maharashtra self-reliant,” said Thackeray.

He added that the State’s industry needs workers so that production can start without any delay, and Maharashtra’s unemployed youth must grab the opportunity.

Till date, about 5 lakh migrant workers have left Maharashtra to return to their own States, taking about 390 Shramik Special trains. Several more have headed home through other modes of transport, including by foot.

Helpless without labour

Sandeep Belsare, President of the Pimpri-Chinchwad Small and Medium Scale Industries Association, told BusinessLine that almost 75 per cent of migrant workers in the auto hub of Pimpri Chinchwad and other areas have left the region.

“Many workers are still leaving even as industries have started operations. The State government has issued permissions to resume work, but we are helpless without labour,” said Belsare.

He observed that the State government must take the initiative to divert unemployed youth in the State to the industrial sector. “The industry will help to create skilled, semi-skilled labour. We can’t depend on migrant labourers and will have to create a workforce within the State,” he said, adding that the majority of MSMEs are dependent on migrant labourers.

MSMEs account for more than 80 per cent of the total employment in Maharashtra, according to the State government’s latest industrial policy. More than 3 million MSMEs form the backbone of Maharashtra’s economy, accounting for about 40 per cent of the exports.

According to the Forum of Small Scale Industries Association in Pimpri Chinchwad, there are 7-8 lakh workers work in the auto sector, the majority of whom are from Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and Odisha.

Published on May 22, 2020

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