CHANDIGARH – Industry in Punjab fears an “exodus” of migrant workers, repeat of the 2020 situation when labourers went back home after lockdown, while some businessmen are claiming they have started heading back to their states.
According to industrialists, migrant workers have a fear that a total lockdown may be clamped as was done last year in the wake of rising COVID-19 cases.
To avoid any hardship that was faced last year after the lockdown was imposed, workers have started returning to their homes, they said.
“We are trying to convince them to stay back. But, some of them have started going back to their states as workers say they do not want to face again any bad experience which they saw last year,” said Ludhiana-based industrialist Vinod Thapar on Tuesday.
Thapar, who is also the president of Ludhiana Knitwear Club, said that if more workers started going back, the industry would suffer.
He said many workers who usually return after harvesting season have also not come back.
Avon Cycles Chairman and Managing Director Onkar Singh Pahwa said the bicycle industry has seen 15 per cent workers’ absenteeism in the past two days.
Punjab has around 10 lakh migrant workers, including 7 lakh in Ludhiana alone. Majority of migrant labourers are from Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Jharkhand.
However, some industrialists said there is no such problem, saying workers every year head back to their homes during this time for holding ceremonies like weddings.
Ludhiana-based hand tool maker S C Ralhan said the industry was organising anti-COVID-19 vaccination camps for their workers.
Meanwhile, Punjab Industries Minister Sunder Sham Arora said no outward movement of migrant workers has been reported in the state.
Many industrial units across all the districts are dependent on migrant industrial workers and it is a matter of satisfaction that till date, no outward movement of workers has been reported in the state, he said in a statement here.
He assured the industry of all proactive support and cooperation in mitigating the impact of the ongoing second COVID-19 wave.
The minister appealed to the industry to take care of all their workers in this hard time of COVID-19.
All industrial workers may be vaccinated for COVID-19 dose at the earliest to arrest the further spread of infection.