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Bypoll effect: Erode industries hit by acute labour shortage

Ever since the announcement of by-election to the constituency, men have cut short their work by three hours to join political campaigns in the evenings.

COIMBATORE: Amidst massive layoffs in corporate firms becoming a global phenomenon, the industrial sector in Erode East Assembly constituency has been experiencing acute shortage of labour resulting in severe production loss.

Thanks to bypoll, a majority of workers have skipped work for campaigning and other poll related work, thereby leaving the industrial sector to cripple in crisis. Therefore, the power loom units have ended up with a production loss of upto 60 per cent in the last one month alone due to shortage of workers.

Ever since the announcement of by-election to the constituency, men have cut short their work by three hours to join political campaigns in the evenings.

“A man weaver would get an average pay of Rs 550 to 600 per day for 12 hours of work. Nevertheless, the women workers, who are engaged in rewinding, work for Rs 250 per day have completely stopped coming over the last four weeks due to the bypoll. All the power loom units have stopped production at night as no worker turns up for night shifts. They earn a better pay by just sitting idle during campaigns of political leaders,” said B Kandavel, organising secretary of Tamil Nadu Federation of Power Looms Associations.

In the previous polls, only 10 per cent of our labour force associated with political parties, used to skip work for campaigns. “But in this political season, almost 30 per cent of regular men weavers have absented from work. They get paid up to Rs 1,500, for those who know to read and write, and others Rs 1,000 to carry out canvassing and other poll related work for political parties. In addition, those involved in day long poll work from 9 am to 9 pm were treated with a sumptuous breakfast, biryani for lunch and dinner as well as frequent refreshments,” he added.

Workers too have no qualms over skipping their regular job. “Rather than toiling all day for a meagre pay, I take home some easy money by spending just a few hours either by doing some party based work or by being involved in campaigns. Even though campaigns have got over, we were assured by political parties to engage us till the day of counting for different works,” said R Mallika, a powerloom worker.

With free flow of cash and liquor, not only the powerloom sector, but almost all the industries and even the hospitality sector were hit by acute shortage of workers. VK Rajamanickam, president of Federation of All Trade and Industry Associations of Erode District (FATIA) said that as everyone was going for poll work, the industries weren’t receiving any labourers and thereby brought the entire industrial production to a grinding halt.

Production hit by over 50 pc

“Only if the by-election gets over, the industrial operations would return to normalcy. Unfortunately, the industrial production has been hit by over 50 per cent in Erode East constituency alone due to the issue of labour shortage. This is a challenging time for us,” Rajamanickam said.

There are also labourers residing in the constituency, but employed in industries located outside and they too have stopped going for work due to bypoll. The industrial establishments say that even if polling gets over, workers may come after they exhaust the money earned from political parties.

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