Kashmir unrest: Private sector lays off 50,000 employees

Srinagar, Oct 13, 2010 (Calcutta Tube) Four months and counting… The unending unrest in the Kashmir Valley has begun to pinch hard the state’s economy. Some 50,000 skilled and non-skilled workers have been retrenched by their employers and many more are likely to lose their jobs, a local media report said Saturday.

The four months of shutdowns and curfews have taken a heavy toll on the frail economy of the Kashmir Valley, Srinagar-based newspaper Kashmir Images reported Saturday.

According to estimates by the Federation Chamber of Commerce and Industries Kashmir (FCIK), some 50,000 skilled and non-skilled workers have been retrenched by their employers due to the unrest as they were ‘unable to meet their idle wage bills’.

And many more are likely to lose their jobs as the private sector feels it unviable to pay the wage bills, Afaq Qadri, vice-president of the FCIK, told Kashmir Images.

Kashmir has 16,000 industrial units in the organised and unorganised sector providing direct employment to 1.6 lakh skilled and non-skilled workers, Qadri said.

Ten to 15 percent of the skilled and non-skilled non-local workers have fled as they felt unsafe in the current state of affairs, said the FCIK vice-president.

Over 100 people have been killed, mostly in firing by security forces on street protesters, since June 11 when a tear gas shell hit a teenager.

The teenager’s death led to mass protests in the valley reviving the separatist campaign.

Production and marketing of goods has come to a standstill and incomes have nose-dived to naught, according to the FCIK.

‘It is becoming unmanageable for industrialists to pay for their workers,’ Qadri told the newspaper.

He said that majority of the unit-holders are still withholding their employees hoping that the situation would soon change, but 20 percent of them have ‘economised by way of cutting their workforce numbers’.

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