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Jobs and  workers’wages loss help SAIL plants recovery

Field visits to Steel authority of India(SAIL) plants in Asansol and Durgapur in West Bengal and a review of internal documents showed hundreds of contract workers of India’s largest steel producer and most profitable state-run company had lost jobs, and many more suffered wage loss, according to a report published in WIRE by Aritra Bhattacharya.

The quarterly financial figures of SAIL validate the findings that its revenues and profitability soared after the lockdown not only due to higher prices of steel but also lower wages and salary bill.

 The company’s salary and wages bill as a ratio to its income from operations was 14.24% for the financial year 2019-2020. By the quarter ending December 2020, steel sales picked up. In fact, due to rising price of steel and sale of piled-up goods, SAIL had a higher income from operations in the quarter ending December 2020 than it had in any quarter before the lockdown. But the salary and wages bill as a ratio to this income dropped to historical low of 11.81% for the quarter.

This resonates with a CMIE survey indicating that 18.9 million people lost their jobs during the lockdown, with the pain palpable in public sector manufacturing that has laws protecting workers’ interests. Since the steel industry employs 25 lakh people directly and indirectly, and contributes slightly over 2% to national income, job and wage loss in the sector also indicate the distress was malignant.