TIRUCHY: This Labour Day has barely brought a smile on the faces of daily wage labourers from Tiruchy and nearby districts, as they, already burdened by the Covid-19 pandemic, struggle to get sufficient work. It was all routine for them as they reached Marakadai, the railway junction, Vayalur Road, and near Thennur Bridge on Sunday, in the hope of getting some work for the day.
Several of these workers from Manapparai, Viralimalai, Lalgudi, Dindigul, and other areas usually reach the city in the early morning hours and wait till noon to get to work. Workers, assembling near Thennur Bridge portion near Marakkadai and other places in the city, claimed that they are not getting sufficient work as they did during the pre-pandemic days.
The bridge is a major spot for the workers to assemble as the contractors arrive and give them jobs. Marimuthu, a worker from Manapparai, decided to return home after having waited for four hours near the bridge. “Nowadays, we are getting work for about four days a week. They are paying about `500 per day a worker. But we need to work for at least six days. As we aren’t getting sufficient work, we would come here even on Sundays and other holidays in the hope of getting some work to support our family.”
Kannamma, a worker from Viralimalai, who was waiting at Tiruchy railway junction with other workers, said, “Some of us took small loans from moneylenders as we were not having any work during the lockdown. Many of us are now working hard to repay the interest. Another Covid wave will only increase the debt burden. All these issues have spoiled our peace of mind and there is nothing left for us to cheer about this Labour Day.” Optimistic about the future, some workers said that the situation may change if the major contractors considered giving more work to the local people.
Selvam, a worker from Somarasampettai, said, “So many construction works are going on in the city. However, the major contractors have employed workers from northern states. These workers are willing to work at a cheap rate. Therefore, we are not getting much work. It would help us a lot if the major contractors consider using more local people for work.”
After waiting at Vayalur Road for three or four hours, Selvam, too, returned home without work. Many daily labourers, who have been facing the same situation, hoped that their situation would change for the better this year.