Video Editor: Abhishek Sharma
SK Dayanand, a native of Belagavi in north Karnataka, has been living in Bengaluru’s Peenya for the last six years. Along with his mother and brother, he came to the city in search of work and sustenance. However, in the last six months, he has been “laid-off” five times from his job at Unique Instruments, a company that produces components for the aerospace industry.
Working as an operator and setter in the company, Dayanand is paid a minimum wage of Rs 14,000 per month. Now laid off, he gets only half the amount but the greater worry is about the uncertainty around his future – neither can he survive on half wages and nor can he seek employment elsewhere.
While a slowdown of 10-20% in the first quarter of the year is reportedly routine and understandable, industry insiders said that they were not prepared for a recession of this magnitude, that was both unexpected and deteriorating day by day.
“In 2007-2008, there was a recession. Even that time we were not so badly affected but today the situation is something unimaginable. Take an average, there is a 30-40% average slowdown but if you consider the small-scale industries in Peenya, some 50-60% has come down.”Srinivas Asaranna, Senior VP of Peenya Industries Association
The cascading effects caused by an auto sector in slow decline affected the machine tools industry and by extension, the MSMEs, says Asaranna.
From working 365 days a year, 24 hours a day to now barely having enough load to operate a single 8-hour shift, factory owners and workers say that things have never been so dull.
“Now, for the last six months, it has become very dull. For the last 3 months, we are running only a single shift, that too only from 9-5 pm. There is no demand,” he said.
“For the last six months, it’s the same story. No work, no load. They keep sending us home, hoping that ultimately, we will quit and go home. This is the management’s idea,” Dayanand said. Along with him, some 14 other workers have been asked to head home for 15 days, until they are called back to work as per the owner’s whim.
“This is all part of the owner’s idea to make the workers quit. They are torturing us by laying us off. In these 15 days, neither can we get a job somewhere else, we have to return here for work,” he rued.
Karthik R, Dayanand’s colleague who has also been similarly laid-off, said that they had no option to trust the owner and sit at home.
“It will be difficult for us to find a suitable job and go to work and earn a decent wage all in the span of 15 days. Neither will anybody be willing to hire us for 15 days. That’s the reason they are dismissing us only for 15 days is because they know that we will not be able to get another job. They want us to leave permanently on our own, this is the managements plan. This is their idea to save money, that’s all,” he said.
Demand at an Unprecedented Low
Chandraprakash Bojak, an industrial supplies shop owner for past 40 years in Peenya, said: “Last six months, it has been very topsy turvy, there have been highs and lows. But in August it was pretty bad, sales were 40% down which was the biggest drop in the last two years. The current situation is very confusing, we don’t know what’s going to happen.”
“But we don’t have any orders, and we don’t have any pressures from customers that we want immediately,” said Mallyadri Reddy, proprietor Srinivasa Engineering Works.
Govt Aid is the Need of the Hour, They Say
“We are the technocrats,they can tell us give some new thing. Makein India concept, we contributed to the country but financially,some hand-holding should be done by Central government,” said Asaranna. Industry members said that they were expecting relief along the lines they received in 2007-08 under the UPA government.
“The UPA govt had announced a special package for the entire industry, and today, we are looking towards the govt and the govt is not talking anything about it. I’ve been seeing lot many industries, micro and small industries, are closing down, because they are not finding it viable to run in this kind of situation. This time, even after 8 months of a continued recession trend, there are no signs of revival,”said Venkatesh DT, CEO of Growell CNC systems.