TIRUCHY: Forty-Three days after shutting down, MSMEs in Tiruchy revved into action on Wednesday. It was, however, a slow start, with very few employees turning up.
Tiruchy has about 450 MSME units involved in fabrication, engineering, manufacturing etc and several smaller units involved in food processing and textiles, among others.
“The turnout was very poor today, as just about 10 per cent of the employees came to work. We have started work though. The main issue is most workers stay in neighbouring districts and need a pass to come to work, They do not have vehicles, therefore, till public transport starts, it would be difficult,” said Rajappa Rajkumar, president, BHEL Small & Medium Industries Association (BHELSIA)).
The first few days would be spent cleaning and sanitising the premises, according to most industrialists. “We will have to manage with the materials on hand and pending orders. We are planning to work in three shifts. Employees who come today need not come the next day. As bus facilities are not there, we cannot expect most of our employees to come,” said N Kanagasabapathy, former president of Tiruchirappalli District Tiny and Small Scale Industries Association (TIDITSSIA).
As most of the units are involved in manufacturing, owners say that working with 50 per cent staff would be an uphill task. They say they would have to reorient the entire process.
“We have been given permission to run two shifts, but in engineering and manufacturing, it is difficult to do the process without the entire staff. We would have to first reorient our work schedule. For now, we are starting where we left off. In a week, we would formulate a new way to work. We are conducting classes and teaching safety measures to our employees,” said Syed Arif, former chairman of CII Tiruchy.
The biggest challenges faced by the MSME sector now are money and salary management. Most of them have not been able to pay April salaries to employees. They all said banks are not supporting them and expect some relief from the government.
“Many are struggling to pay April salaries. The government has to give some relief. Banks should give interest-free loans to MSMEs. Even if we start functioning with 20 to 30 per cent capacity, without interest burden, we can easily manage. We cannot do anything if interest gets cut,” said Rajkumar, echoing MSME unit owners.