No exodus of migrant workers from TN as industries, State govt offer ‘comfort’

Balachandar G Chennai | Updated on April 29, 2021

With no lockdown, full pay, food & place to live, most stay put

Unlike other States, key industrial clusters in Tamil Nadu are not seeing any migrant exodus this time. Most migrant workers, it appears, have chosen to stay back.

Unlike the first wave last year, also there is no complete shutdown of business activity, inter-State transport is still allowed, and there are no visuals of migrant workers deserting cities and industrial belts and trudging home with family members.

“Majority of the migrant workers in the organised sector are not leaving. Companies and managements are having a clear communication at the floor level to give migrant workers the comfort. Meetings are held alternate days to bring about a positive mindset. We are not witnessing any panic like last time in our industries,” said Prabhu Damodharan, Convenor of Coimbatore-based Indian Texpreneurs Federation.

Migrants also realise the advantages of staying back for their safety and continuation of income flow. After May 1, industries also plan to vaccinate the migrant workers.

“To my knowledge, industries in Chennai have not faced migrant labour exodus issues so far this time. Workers have also understood the benefit of staying back as employers have assured them salary, stay, food and necessary support. Returning to their villages will serve no purpose with no income assurance,” said K Srikanth, Former Convenor, MSME Panel (Tamil Nadu), CII, and CEO, Alfa Rubber Springs (P) Ltd.

Also, most industrial units pay the full salary without any cuts and there is also over-time salary when shifts are added. So, it’s highly beneficial and remunerative for migrant workers to stay back.

“Places like Ambattur Industrial Estate (in Chennai) and surrounding areas have a huge migrant population employed as helpers, shop-floor workers, etc. I happened to meet them a few days ago and gathered that a small percentage of people left for their home-towns. But there is no mass exodus like last time,” said KP Gopal, Director, Stuser Tools Pvt Ltd

The industry feels that the State government’s support and policymakers’ assurance of avoiding a complete lockdown played a big role in continuation of activities. “Our approach has been that the industry functions during this time and I believe that signal has helped the migrants understand that there won’t be a complete lockdown and suspension of economic activity,” said Neeraj Mittal, MD & CEO of Guidance Tamil Nadu.

Published on April 22, 2021

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