As tighter lockdown norms came into effect on Monday, confusion reigned in many industrial areas across Bengaluru. Some workers walked to their factories, while others in Peenya industries were turned away by the police. Several factories reported lower attendance as many workers stayed away from work.
Worse still, several industries which had received relaxation, after the State government issued an addendum to the guidelines by Sunday evening, saw many employees remaining absent. For, many of them had left Bengaluru ahead of the lockdown, assuming that the industries would remain closed.
“The industries saw workers remaining absent over the confusion. Based on the first lockdown guidelines, many workers had returned to their villages. By Sunday evening, when relaxation was given, they were unable to return quickly,” said Karnataka Employers’ Association president B.C. Prabhakar.
Some factories even had rented out nearby hotels to house their workers since the nature of the curfew was not known. “Hotels are closer to the factories and this way, the workers could walk to work. Some industries needing workers to ensure the processes do not stop have resorted to this mode. The exemptions came on Sunday,” he said.
Concurring that workers were unable to return to Bengaluru, Centre of Indian Trade Unions State secretary Meenakshi Sundaram said that because of the multiple addendums to the notification to relax the lockdown for industries, confusion prevailed. “The overnight permission given to industries led to confusion. By then, many workers had left. There is some kind of a panic. Workers could lose their wages or in some cases, even their jobs,” he said.
Mr. Sundaram said many industries, even though they do not belong to the essential category, had received permission to function, especially in the automobile, auto components, and electrical sectors.
While trade unions have been alleging that factories were being given exemptions without much thought, sources in the government said the industries were being looked into on a case-to-case basis.
AITUC Bengaluru secretary M. Satyananda also said that workers had trouble reaching factories. However, this was more profound in the Peenya-Yeshwanthpur area, which receives workers from city areas too. He also said workers were scared to come to work in the midst of the pandemic when health facilities were under severe strain.
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