Cameraperson: Abhishek Ranjan
Creative Producer: Puneet Bhatia
Just last month, as per the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM) figures, the automobile industry managed to sell 36,697 four-wheeler units in May 2020; down by 84.65 percent compared to what was a year before (2,39,137 units).
Still, a drop of almost 85-90 percent in year-over-year sales. April was worse as no units were sold in that month. Only some units could be shipped outside when port operations resumed.
But since the lockdown phase is over and regulations on the industry have been lifted, carmakers have started manufacturing operations.
This has increased the demand for component manufacturers. However, due to a shortage of labour, these small industries are suffering.
We spoke to some of these small components manufacturers on how they are dealing with the problem of migrant labourers returning to their native states and how they are managing operations with limited staff.
We also spoke to some of the factory workers on how they managed to make it back to work amid transportation and logistical challenges.
In doing so, we tried to understand the financial constraints these manufacturing units are facing due to increasing overheads and costs rising due to safety protocols amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Many migrant labourers decided to return to their hometowns due to shortage of work in the cities and this has left a void in several manufacturing units across the country as they are labour intensive.
Labourers still fear infection in the cities, and most of them don’t want to return. Some have also said that they fear that the lockdown will be imposed again and they will have no means to earn their livelihood.
The manufacturers are concerned and figuring out alternatives like automation to mitigate the shortage of labour.