In Haryana, workers laid off from the automobile sector struggle to find new opportunities -Vijayta Lalwani
Some of these workers had found temporary jobs with political parties for the upcoming Haryana Assembly elections.
Rahul Kumar Sharma, 22, worked in the welding department of an auto-component company in Manesar, Haryana, fixing nuts and bolts that would be later assembled to form a car door. He had joined the company in June 2017.
The work hours were gruelling. For a nine-hour shift, he earned a monthly salary of Rs 9,765 – only a shade higher than the Rs 8,827 minimum wage for unskilled workers in Haryana. On days when he worked round the clock, he earned Rs 80 for every extra hour he put in.
Still, he was grateful to have the job. “There are no jobs otherwise for freshers like me,” Sharma said.
In November 2018, the company began to lay off workers. Sharma lost his job on December 31, 2018. Another worker in the same department, Pradeep Kumar Singh, 24, was asked to leave on February 2, 2019.
The job losses did not make news until the automobile sector began to report a slowdown in sales. In July, passenger vehicle sales fell by 31%, the worst decline in two decades. One of the contributing factors was the liquidity crunch created after several non-banking financial companies went bust. This limited access to credit for purchasing houses and vehicles. Maruti Suzuki, the largest car manufacturer in India, cut its temporary workforce by 6% in June, Reuters reported.
But conversations with workers reveal the lay-offs in the automobile sector began much earlier – and are possibly much wider in scale.
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