Lucknow: Sudhir Singh Yadav, 25, travels 26 km every day to Lucknow from the Barabanki district to get the daily wage work of a labourer in the industrial area. Yadav has been doing this for the past three years, he says, and there is no guarantee of a job even after him having enrolled with one of the local job contractors.
The UPSIDC (Uttar Pradesh State Industrial Development Corporation)-II or the Chinhat Industrial Area in Lucknow is one of the major hubs for daily wage jobs in the state capital of Uttar Pradesh.
Although Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath claims that more than 15 lakh youths got jobs in the state in the past two years, the reality is different.
It was last August when more than 3,700 PhD holders, along with 50,000 graduates and 28,000 post graduates, applied for 62 posts of the peon-level job of messenger — requirement for which is to be Class-V pass — in the Uttar Pradesh Police department.
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According to the figures from the Lucknow district unit of the Uttar Pradesh labour department, there was an increase in the number of labourers by 95,988 in Lucknow district itself after the implementation of note ban. Labour activist Sharad Patel pointed out that while this was only the number of increased labourers in one district, the numbers across the entire state would be much higher, which is telling of the situation of joblessness.
According to a Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE) report in December 2018, while overall unemployment stood at a shade over 10 per cent, among graduates it was 14 per cent, and in the 20-24 age group it stood at a staggering 33%. It is estimated that over 62 lakh people were unemployed in Uttar Pradesh.
Yadav is an intermediate(Class 12)-pass labourer who once dreamt of becoming a big businessman, but ended up being a daily wager due to the economic condition of his family. He says he had never wanted to take up the job of a labourer as he is educated enough to be a clerk or to do any other grade-III desk/office job, which he could never find.
“It has been six years that I’ve been working as a labourer because I have to support my family somehow. I tried many times to get office jobs based on my education and skills, but failed. I still try for jobs, but it looks like there is no job for me in the whole world.”
Currently, he is working in the automobile industry while earlier he had worked in the construction sector for a short time. He finds working in the automobile industry to be more reputable.
Sudhir is a father of two-year-old twin kids, and there are nine other members in his family. The young labourer says he voted for Narendra Modi in the last Lok Sabha elections and for the BJP in the last Vidhan Sabha elections, but he has been disappointed with the government. Sudhir earns Rs 220 per day for an eight-hour shift and has got a basic level safety training of two days from the contractor he is enrolled with. However, the contractor charges him and other labourers for safety shoes, helmets and other equipment, which are essential to enter the machinery plant of any industry in the industrial area. The contractor charges 10 per cent of Sudhir’s monthly salary.
“In 2014, Modi ji promised us jobs. I and the young people from my village were hopeful about getting good jobs, but this government is useless. He had also promised the construction of the Ram Temple in Ayodhya, among other things. But while the temple was not built, at least give enough jobs to the youth. I have made up my mind that this time I am going to vote for Akhilesh Yadav as he had done a lot for the youth,” says Sudhir.
Another labourer Ram Dulare, 45, who hails from Dariyamau of Barabanki district, says he is a skilled labourer and knows how to do press welding jobs, but he has still no option other than doing the job of a daily wage labourer.
Dulare spent more than a decade working as a skilled labourer in Mumbai, but he became jobless after demonetisation and had to leave Mumbai after he did not find any job for more than a month.
“We were seven siblings and I am intermediate pass. To pursue my education after high school, I took a loan of Rs 25,000 but I used that money for getting my sister married, so I could not study further after passing Class 12. My father was a poor farmer and it was impossible for him to feed such a large family and give proper education to all of the children, this is why I decided to work. For a very short time, I worked as a conductor in Uttar Pradesh Roadways and also as a Lekhpal, but I was asked for a bribe of Rs 25,000 at the time that I could not pay and was ousted from the job. Since then I have been working in the informal sector and was doing the best I could for my family until demonetisation happened,” he says.
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The middle-aged labourer says that life is unpredictable and so are jobs. “There is no guarantee of either jobs or fixed wages,” he says, adding that he got the work through a contractor and is earning Rs 220 per day for the eight-hour shift without any other job benefit like insurance, safety equipment, incentives, bonus and leaves. Dulare says he will vote for the Congress.
According to this India Spend article, these labourers are among the 92 per cent of India’s workforce employed in the informal sector, which generated about half of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP). The website quoted the data from the National Commission for Enterprise in the Unrecognized Sector or the informal sector.
Vinod Kumar Tiwari, a labour contractor operating in the industrial area, says he has been in this trade since 2009 and has not seen much hike in the rates paid by industries for labourers.
He emphasises that the industries do not even provide safety equipment, medical facility or health insurance for the labourers. “The labourers in Lucknow depend on either the construction sector or the automobile industry.”