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MSMEs across India paying labourers more than MGNREGA to fight crisis

New Delhi, Apr 26 (KNN) The trend of labourers migrating to urban areas in search of better employment prospects and fulfilment of their dreams remains an ongoing problem even as metropolitan cities are bursting at their seams with the influx of migrant workers.  The industrial units which pay more than minimum wage to such labourers are the worst hit in this scenario.

“We feel the severe scarcity of labourers here now. Most of them are migrating either due to the socio-economic conditions or in search of better employment opportunities in the metros without knowing the pros and cons.  Also, due to MGNREGA there is scarcity of labourers. The labourers from towns like Motihari and Sitamarhi migrate to Patna. But labourers from Patna and nearby towns move to metro cities. All types of industries, especially MSMEs are facing a huge crisis due to this,” said President of Bihar Industries Association, Arun Aggarwal.

Asked about a possible solution, he said, “Labourers move only when the development is slow here. The alternative to the labour crisis is - technology, outsourcing or paying them more than the minimum wage allowance or what they are getting under MGNREGA.”

Himachal Pradesh is home to thousands of MSMEs, with nearly 2000 industries in the Baddi area alone, approximately 2 hours from the state capital of Shimla.

“The industries in Himachal are also facing acute shortage of labourers. Government schemes like MGNREGA is one of the prime reasons for it,” said President of BBN Association in Baddi, Rajendra Gularia.

“There are about 2000 industries in Baddi alone, out of which 1300 are MSMEs. They are definitely facing problem due to labourers’ crunch.

“The solution is either to pay them more than what they are getting under MGNREGA or spend on high technology to replace labourers,” Gularia added.

Jharkhand, which is a rich state in terms of minerals and small scale industries, is also facing severe crisis of labour shortage.

“MSMEs are facing the labour crisis mainly due to government schemes like MGNREGA, Food Security etc. As most of the population here are Adivasis, they are reaping the benefits the most,” said President of Jharkhand Small Industries Association, Arun Khemka.

“Even the partly skilled labourers who earlier used to come to work are now not willing to as they are happy with the food and pay they get in MGNREGA. They go there for 5 days and get good pay and come to us only for 2-3 days.  They are assured that we will not fire them and moreover that we will pay them well because of the crisis,” he added.

“The solution is to invest in machinery, in which too MSMEs have limitations;  often they accept the labourers on their terms, paying them more than desired. Because of all these problems as well as land and development issues, the MSMEs are suffering here and very few units have come here since the state was formed,” Khemka added.

This is the problem not restricted to the small states; labour crisis is also prevalent in the metros due to reasons such as skill shortage. The labourers from the small states migrate to the big cities but are not skilled enough to get employment. As a result labour shortage poses problems both in small cities and big towns.