I recently toured about 18 factories in western India to photograph various facets of the manufacturing Industries….I would be visiting North India in december post my Turkey visit. I had been to these very units about 3 years back with a similar objective…i had also visited factories in Europe and eastern europe at that time.

I found a few stark changes across the factories.  Companies now engage more of casual labour, who are probably paid by the day or week. These are not employees of the company so they dont have to provide for the uniforms, lunch etc..many times even safety seemed compromised. Most of this labour is from villages near by, unskilled and uneducated. they seemed happy enough to have the job (even for short time). Companies pay a contractor who then manages this labour. i see a fairly complex management and renumeration structure coming in place. It does tax HR in a different way. SO the factories have elite company staff- that is in uniform who do look healthy and satisfied and then this labour…who dont seem to have a choice.

Now what does this do to the companies. besides the fact that companies look un organised, unhygienic, and not very clean, with workers in all colours of dresses and footwear from hawais to sandals, I also feel it will make these companies unscalable and non competitive. With the attitude like this and volume stress on production these companies will not be able to ramp up in time.

I also noticed another change: though the factories are churning out more, industry employes lesser people. The manpower now is at least 1/3rd of what i saw three years back. Factories have invested a lot in automation, they are investing more rapidly now so my guess is in next few years we will have 80% of this casual labour also free from employment. I saw so many robots, and almost in every situation. Right from basic rubber making to complex forging operations robots have taken over. I saw robots doing calibrations and testing profiles in R&D as well.

It does make manufacturing more efficient and safer for humans. But then Humans need to find some other roles..

I wonder who’s headache is this…