Shortage of quality labour caused by exodus of migrants hurts Maharashtra

The Centre and the Maharashtra government may have signalled lifting of the lockdown, but lack of quality labour in the state, especially in Mumbai, is hurting businesses, primarily the small ones. The shortage of labourers, caused by the exodus o...

Reuters
The construction industry was also severely hit, but several developers had hired buses or booked train tickets to get their workforce back from their native states
MUMBAI: Sanjay Gurav, a social activist who lives near the Fort area in South Mumbai, didn’t get his usual milk supply for several days in June and again in August.

“On inquiring, I found out from our local milk seller that his delivery boy who had gone to his native place outside the state had not returned” and this was disrupting the deliveries, Gurav said. “He has now found another local boy to deliver milk.”

The Centre and the Maharashtra government may have signalled lifting of the lockdown, but lack of quality labour in the state, especially in Mumbai, is hurting businesses, primarily the small ones. The shortage of labourers, caused by the exodus of migrants from the city and the state during the early days of Covid-19, has also driven up labour costs for businesses.


Pankaj Kotecha, who is involved in the decoration and catering business, said he is now paying two-three times more to labourers than in the pre-Covid times. “This is because of the shortage. Also, since we don’t have specialised people who know our trade, it takes twice as long to execute any task,” added Kotecha.

The construction industry was also severely hit, but several developers had hired buses or booked train tickets to get their workforce back from their native states such as Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Assam.

Many of the restaurant operators, who had employed a large number of migrants, haven’t brought back their workers yet. “Our staff that left the state during the pandemic wants to come back. However, there is not much demand for us to call them back, as we would have to pay their full salaries,” one of them from South Mumbai said.
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For the time being, he is managing with local people who have not much experience. “Some of our customers have complained that the food doesn't taste the same,” he added.

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