Restaurants in Mumbai facing staff crunch as migrant workers are unable to come back
20 December 2020
Restaurants in Mumbai are unable to open due to lack of staff. According to President of the Mumbai Branch of National Restaurant Association of India (NRAI), 40 percent of restaurants in Mumbai are still shut. According to the NRAI most people working in the restaurants were migrant workers who are unable to come. The migrant workers are not able to come back due to lack of transport facilities and expensive ticket prices. In the pre Covid times, the ticket prices used to be around Rs. 450. This has now doubled to Rs. 945 post lockdown for a trip from Kolkata to Mumbai by train.
Pankaj Agarwal, the owner of Olde Baileys Cafe said that they do not have enough funds to hire new workers either. “Staff is a big big issue and big crunch, because at the moment all of the migrant workers that we had from Dehradun, Uttarakhand area they have gone back, so I don’t have the staff to run my restaurants,” he said. Agarwal had five restaurants, out of which four are closed due to lack of workers.
Shivanand. D. Shetty, the President of Indian Hotel & Restaurant Association agreed that the shortage of manpower is hampering the revival of the restaurant business. “It is like starting a new restaurant as of now. Where in everything needs to be reorganised as there was a cash cycle that was broken in March,” he said. Mr Shetty paid over Rs. one lakh to get his staff back.
Arpon Roy, a migrant worker said that most of the workers are willing to come back, but are unable to. “We don’t have to work in our village. There is no such work that we can do on an everyday basis,” he said. He also added that there is only one special train that plies from Kolkata to Mumbai. “There is only one special train, which is either too expensive or the tickets are not available due to the high demand,” he said.
Mr Rungtan said that it will take three to six months for the situation to change. He added that restaurant owners can look for local workers from other industries who have lost their jobs. “So they can upscale them and bring them to the hospitality business,” he said. Mr Rungtan also said that it will take three to six months to change the situation. “The trains need to restart. The workers are also afraid of the virus, because of which many are unwilling to return,” he said. As per Mr Rungtan, the situation can only change if the government starts more transport services.