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Pandemic LIfe

Offices in Kolkata hum but hands fewer post-Covid

Business ‘back to normal’ but promised call to rejoin remains elusive

Debraj Mitra | Published 13.12.21, 09:32 AM
Representational image.

Representational image.

Shutterstock

In January 2020, just before the pandemic, a facility management company had 900 people on its rolls in Kolkata, working for a number of clients.

At the peak of the first wave of Covid infections, before Puja last year, thenumber had nose-dived to less than 400.

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In December 2021, things are better than before but

100-odd people are still benched. Offices, factories and other workplaces are back to being busy but without a section of old workers.

Over 1.5 crore jobs were lost in India in May  this year and the monthly unemployment rate reached 11.9 per cent, the highest since last year’s national lockdown, according to a survey by the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE), a private research group.

Many of those benched or sent on furlough during the past two years have notbeen called back, said representatives of human resource consultant companies.

“Clients have asked for a reduced workforce because they have also tweaked their rosters and are not working at 100 per cent capacity. A client who paid for 20 workers is not willing to pay for more than 12. We are billing the client for 12 people but trying to distribute the money among all 20,” said Saikat Chakraborty, regional manager (east) of a facility management company that supplies workers to IT offices, e-commerce companies and other  offices.

Most IT offices have switched to the work-from-home model. Sprawling offices that needed dozens of housekeeping staff  are now almost empty.

Many other sectors have also adopted the same model to save overhead expenses.

Rajiv Mondal, assistant general manager (operations) of a property and asset management company, said “10 per cent of our workforce are still out of work and without pay”. Companies such as his pay their workers from the bills realised from clients.

In January 2020, it had around 900 employees working — in housekeeping, maintenance and security — at residential and commercial properties like malls in and around Kolkata.

“The home delivery model is booming. Many of our former employees have become delivery executives. But some are still without a fixed income. If one person has taken to selling vegetables, another is selling fritters,” he said.

Many of the people who have lost their jobs are on the wrong side of age.

“Employers who are recruiting are keen on new and young staff rather rehire people benched following the Covid outbreak because new employees accept lower pay,” said the manager of recruitment consultancy, who did not wish to be named.

In January 2020, it had around 900 employees working — in housekeeping, maintenance and security — at residential and commercial properties like malls in and around Kolkata.

“The home delivery model is booming. Many of our former employees have become delivery executives. But some are still without a fixed income. If one person has taken to selling vegetables, another is selling fritters,” he said.

Many of the people who have lost their jobs are on the wrong side of age.

“Employers who are recruiting are keen on new and young staff rather rehire people benched following the Covid outbreak because new employees accept lower pay,” said the manager of recruitment consultancy, who did not wish to be named.

Last updated on 13.12.21, 01:11 PM
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