Migrant workers find it tough to sustain families

The disruption and loss of work meant many of the workers are being threatened with evictions by their house-owners

Prem is a 45-year-old mason who has sent off his family to Kolkata before the second lockdown was imposed in Hyderabad.

Two months later, he is finding it difficult to send money to his wife and two children.

“If I get work on one day, I am not getting work for eight days. It has become difficult to reach this labour adda from Urumgadda and go back without earning a rupee,” says the man in broken Hindi.

The labour adda is among the dozens of informal job markets in Hyderabad where workers congregate in the morning hoping to get hired for a day.

Carrying their small steel tiffin boxes filled with food and their tools of trade, the workers can be seen bright eyed and chatty in the morning.

From skilled masons to brick layers to painters to sewer-line cleaners to plumbers and carpenters and workers; the addas are a hunting ground for talent.

“Sometimes I wait till 3 p.m. before I decide to go home. I can no longer afford shared autorickshaws. I walk home and reach by evening,” says Prem.


The disruption and loss of work has meant many of the workers are being threatened with evictions by their house-owners.

“I owe ₹7,000 as I have not been able to pay rent for the past two months. The house-owner is threatening to throw out our belongings. I don’t know what to do,” says Anwar, who used earn ₹1,000 per day for the painting work he does.

“I have the tools but people don’t want to get work done at their homes,” he says. Muhammad Taj, a bricklayer who gets ₹800 per day if gets work, has a different problem.

“I am from Narayanpet. I am living here in the hope I get work and earn some money. But there is no work. If I go to my hometown, I can get rations but I don’t know how I will return,” says Mr. Taj about his dilemma. “The shutdown has affected money circulation which is key to social life among daily-wage earners. Once mobility is affected, everything gets affected,” says Anant Maringanti of Hyderabad Urban Labs who tracks social mobility. “The government should do an emergency cash transfer to help people. What’s economic stimulus if it does not help the poor people during the worst crisis we can remember,” says Mr. Maringanti.

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