He is learning to sell flowers. And he finds it difficult. Just 10 months back, Mahesh was working on ad hoc basis at a Tata Motors plant. Though it was a temporary job, he was happy and secure because he had been working there for the last 10 years. Work was consistent and the money good enough to sustain.
In the last week of January, 2019, Mahesh was served a lay-off order. “Initially I was told that there will be no work for 15 days and that I will be asked to re-join duty by the end of February. I agreed and thought it would be good to rest these tired bones,” Mahesh says.
He said that gradually, more workers were given pink slips as the supervisor on the shop floor said that there was a decline in orders and that only two shifts would run from the middle of February.
There used to be three shifts in the factory where the workers would work. After every two to three months, they were given a break of a few days and then were issued fresh contracts.
“I thought it was a temporary break. But now I believe I have permanently lost my job because work at the Tata Motors plant has been reduced to just a single shift. People say this happened because of the policies of the government which have destroyed the automobile sector,” he adds.
A working class man, Mahesh does not understand the nitty-gritty of the financial decisions but admits that life is very tough for him now. “You do not know when you can lose a job because of the whimsical decision of the government. Sarkar ul-jhalool nirnaya leti hai, yeh bhi nahi sochti ki logon ka kya hoga (The government takes absurd decisions without realising as to what will happen to the people),” he quips wearing a dejected look. Mahesh now works at a florist’s shop in Bhootnath market in Lucknow where he sells flowers and bouquets.
He admits that he is a misfit here. He throws a glance around at the other florists. “I don’t know this work. I am a technical man who has learnt the art of moulding metals. This is a delicate job and I am still learning the art,” he signs off.