Saturday, October 31, 2020

Kerala: Firms give free air tickets to migrants

Kottayam: Guest workers have become so indispensable to the state that they are being provided free air tickets to return from work after lockdown. The industrial units in the state have been facing a crisis due to the severe shortage of workers after the lockdown was lifted.

Majority of the workers who left for their respective states are yet to return for work. The industrial estate in Poovanthuruth in the district is totally dependent on guest workers. This was one of the earliest industrial estates in the state where the guest workers had arrived for work.

T C Joseph, who is into the rubber mat industry, has already flown down around 50 workers from Assam, Odisha and UP. The workers who land in Kochi from Kolkata, Bhubaneswar or Lucknow airports are taken in special vans to the quarantine centres taken for rent by Joseph.

“They are taken care of there for 14 days and they will be ready for work after a Covid test,” said Joseph. Like Joseph many have found it worth to fly down the workers instead of waiting for the rail traffic to fully resume.

Johnson P Thomas, vice-president of the industrial association here, said that the industrial units are facing a crisis as only 50% of work is being held. At least 10 workers are needed to run one shift, he said. “Those who can afford to provide air tickets and quarantine facilities are doing that to get going. A minimum of Rs 20,000 is required for each person for that,” he said.

Most of the workers who deal with machinery in the industrial units are from Assam, Odisha and UP. Joseph said Air India, Air Asia and Indigo are operating flights from the airports like Guwahati and Bhubanewsar. The ticket fare is around Rs 10,000.

31/10/20 Jaikrishnan Nair/Times of India

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