If the lockdown is prolonged, many commuters won't have a job to go to.
Hyderabad: People belonging to the lowest rung of the formal sector, with usually regular salaries and some benefits, are already feeling the effects of the nationwide lockdown. Over the past few days, many have come to understand the tenuous nature of their "job security". Those employed in recruiting agencies, sales and marketing agencies and even private school teachers are looking at a long April ahead.
Madhusudan (35), an employee of a company that recruits people to work for delivery companies and the like, has not received his salary for three months. The company was already struggling financially and was not able to credit salaries regularly. When a lockdown seemed imminent, it decided to fire several workers, including Madhusudan.
"The management isn’t even giving us our salary for February. They want us to hand over any company property we might have, but we are unable to due to the lockdown," he said.
Madhusudan’s wife Yogapriya is an employee at a Hyderabad-based medical diagnostic centre. The couple thought her salary would see them through the lockdown period. However, Yogapriya too has been asked to stop reporting for duty.
She said, "I don’t know if I have been fired, but I was told to not come to office. The management told us there are no patients at the centre, so they won’t pay us a salary for March or April."
The couple has a grand total of Rs 800 saved with them. They have no idea how they will survive until the end of the lockdown.
Parshuram, a sales executive at an electronics shop, said he was not sure if he still had a job. "My employer has closed his showrooms. Since there are no sales, he has asked us to not expect any salary for April. For March too, he isn’t sure when the money can be credited," he said.
Vikram, a company secretary working at a firm which handles over 40 clients, mostly manufacturers of various goods, said his clients were not going to fire anyone right now. "They are all waiting to hear more about the lockdown. If it gets extended, they might start thinking about it. In any case, though March salaries won’t be an issue, April salaries won’t be given in full," he said.
Sheikh Shabbir Ali, founder of Telangana Private Teachers Forum, said private teachers were amongst the worst hit by the lockdown. "Very few of them get decent salaries and rarely do they have savings. To make things worse, 80 per cent of them don’t have ration cards," he said.
According to the current academic calendar, if schools reopen after the summer vacations in June, the teachers won’t see a rupee until then. "The central and state governments have asked employers to not cut salaries but unless this is enforced, private teachers will have no respite," he said.
The garment and textile industry too is looking at layoffs in the long run, though they are unlikely to happen immediately. Pawan Bansal, member of the TS Garments Manufacturing and Wholesalers Association, has pledged to pay all employees their March salaries without fail. "However, if the lockdown is prolonged by even a few days, companies will start bleeding. After that, they will have no choice but to let people go," he said.