Strict movement restrictions worry industrialists

With the government banning the movement of workers from their houses to workplaces during the 12-day complete lockdown in Chennai and its surroundings, industrialists said that their units would be hit badly.

With employees working in shifts and on rotation basis, it will be tough providing accommodation for everyone in and around the plant, as mandated by the government, they said.

Representatives of MSMEs are also requesting the government to remove the condition of mandatorily subjecting workers to RT-PCR tests for COVID-19.

Arranging stay

“We have started looking for accommodation for our employees in and around the factory. There are some hotels close by so we are in talks with government officials to check if workers can be accommodated there,” said the managing director of an MNC.

He said that his firm had several buses and instead of housing employees in and around the factory, the company could pick workers at their doorstep if the government permitted.

The India head of an MNC said, “Post unlock 1.0, we thought MSMEs and industries were asked to take three steps forward and now we are taking two steps backwards. The cost of doing business, following the COVID-19 SOPs, has already gone up and the government must support industry rather that reintroducing the lockdown.”

Many industries said that they were studying options on how to run business during the complete lockdown. Most business houses have indicated that they would operate, as orders have slowly started flowing in.

However, the mandate on RT-PCR testing has been worrying industrialists. A.N. Sujeesh, president, Ambattur Industrial Estate Manufacturers’ Association, said, “When we enquired with a testing lab, we were told that testing can be done only for symptomatic persons on doctor’s prescription, as per ICMR guidelines. In this situation, how can we test the workers?”

The association has written to the Chief Minister in this regard.

Food for workers

Mr. Sujeesh also said that shutting down units now would be a nightmare.

“We have asked firms to accommodate workers within the factory and nearby rooms. However, food is going to be a concern,” he said.

Hariharan Ramamoorthy, national vice-president, Laghu Udyog Bharati- T.N., said that industries would not br able to foot ₹4,000 for testing each worker when there was no cash flow.

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