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The employer who flew his staff home

By A GANESH NADAR
June 04, 2020 08:28 IST
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Sandeep Jain hopes his actions will inspire others to do the same.

IMAGE: Sandeep Jain, centre, with the workers he flew home.

Seven workers from Chennai flew home to Varanasi on June 1, after being stranded in Chennai since the lockdown started on March 24.

They were employed at a company whose owner decided to fly them home after seeing their extreme frustration over being cooped up indoors without work for so long.

Jain Packers and Movers started operations four years ago. The coronavirus pandemic and its consequent lockdown, which has brought the nation to a standstill, have paralysed the company's operations.

Originally from Jodhpur, Sandeep Jain, who owns Jain Packers and Movers, has been a resident of Chennai for 30 years.

A commerce graduate, he started his business with 12 employees.

Jain tells A Ganesh Nadar/Rediff.com why he decided to fly his staff home:

 

"April, May and June is the season time for movers and packers. That is when most people shift homes.

"In July and August, there is no work here as it is the Tamil month of Aadi when people don't move into a new home.

"So every year my employees go home in July and August to attend to agricultural work in their villages and come back in September.

"This year our season was completely wiped out because of coronavirus and the lockdown.

"During the lockdown I continued paying the workers their salary and also gave them free rations and accommodation.

"I only employ regular employees. I don't use temporary labour.

"From March to June they have been stuck indoors and were frustrated. I gave them food and also arranged a TV set. But for how long can you watch TV?

"They were getting regular calls from their villages to come back."

The workers had registered themselves at the local police station to go home. They did get a call from the government, but by that time Jain had already booked their flight tickets.

"I didn't want them to go by train as that took a long time. I heard that on some trains they don't get food and on other trains they don't even get water. I did not want to risk that.

"They have served me well for so many years, so I decided to fly them back."

Earlier, he tried to send them back by a van and attempted to get an e-pass online for Uttar Pradesh, but did not succeed.

After landing in Varanasi the workers called to let him know that they had arrived safely.

"I think they will be in home quarantine," says Jain.

"They will stay home for two months. After July I will decide according to the situation, then call them back. I want them to relax in their villages for at least two months."

One of the seven workers who flew to Varanasi, Sanjay Kumar, spoke to Rediff.com on the phone.

"I have been working for Jain Packers and Movers since 2016. Under normal circumstances we go back to our village twice a year, in July and December and spend 30 to 40 days at a time in our village."

"During the lockdown our boss gave us food and salary. Then he sent us back by flight. Normally we travel by train so it was a new experience. He dropped us to the airport in his car."

"When we landed, our names were already in the register as our boss had got us e-passes. From the airport we went to a hospital and after a health checkup, they told us to go home," Kumar, whose wife and family live in the village, says.

The workers plan to return to Chennai after the situation improves and the business restarts.

"When people read about this, and if it inspires others to do the same," says Sandeep Jain, "I will be very happy."

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A GANESH NADAR / Rediff.com
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