Only 20% employees reported to work on Monday: Trade bodies

They blame lack of transport, poor vaccination coverage for poor turnout

Non-availability of public transport and poor vaccination coverage resulted in only around 20% of employees in micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in Bengaluru turning up to work on the first day of resumption of business after the partial unlock kicked in on Monday.

Although the Karnataka government had permitted factories and manufacturing units to operate with a 50% workforce, most units could only get 15% to 20% workers to the premises.

Kassia President K.B. Arasappa told The Hindu, “Most employees could not reach work because they did not have their own conveyance. Some portion of the workers who came today were not vaccinated. They had to be sent back adhering to safety guidelines. Our member companies are trying to vaccinate their employees but they are not getting enough vaccine from the government.

“We had requested the government to operate BMTC buses to industrial areas, including Bommasandra, Whitefield and Rajajinagar. We also asked the government to allow shops and establishments to function. If they all remain closed, from where will MSMEs buy raw materials? The industry can’t operate without the support of the supply chain.”

Perikal M. Sundar, President, FKCCI said the trade body has been trying to convince the government to allow traders to open their establishments as industry and trade are interdependent and interlinked. “The government opened the industry, but shops that sell electrical, electronics and other raw materials remain closed. We have met the Chief Secretary to apprise him of our concerns,” said Mr. Sundar.

Sajjan Raj Mehtra, trade activist, said the Karnataka government earned over ₹10,000 crore in revenue in March this year, but could get only ₹2,000 crore in May.

“The government should open up all connected sectors. Only if traders sold cement, steel, plastic, iron, pipes, rubber, copper, aluminium and other raw materials, factories can produce something. Industries also require another set of traders to sell their finished goods to end-users. It’s a chain and no single link can operate effectively,” he said.

Karnataka has over 6.5 lakh MSME units directly employing over 2.8 lakh people. MSMEs in Mysuru, Belagavi and Hassan are yet to reopen operations.

According to trade bodies, around 20% of workers are yet to return from their villages.

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