labour surplus

Post 33, Sherpur, Ludhiana

10:00 a.m.: I am at Sherpur, where Shailendra’s elder brother Ram Kishore and cousin Shyamsundar have been working on a gurdwara for the past few weeks. Sandeep has been working with them since May, when he had come from Bihar to Punjab with Shailendra and the rest of us. They have finished constructing the gateway on which they were working when we had last met in August. Having successfully completed that assignment, they recently secured a contract for fitting tiles on the wall adjoining the gateway. In preparation, they are preparing the scaffolds on which they will carry out their work.

Sandeep confirms his plans to return to Sargana on November 1. He will be accompanied by Birendra, Shailendra’s younger brother Birendra, who currently works in at Malerkotla. A few of their neighbours from Sargana, presently working in Poonch, will also join them on their journey back home. Once he goes, Sandeep says, Shailendra’s cousin Sundar will take his place on the Sherpur team. Sundar, who had travelled with them to Beeja/ Barmalipur in May, was laid off soon thereafter by Damodar Rajak, the contractor: a labour surplus meant that there were more people than needed to work on the gurdwaras, so Damodar suggested that Sundar work elsewhere till one of the labourers took leave to go home. Following Damodar’s advice, Sundar took up work as a headloader in Malerkotla’s grain market, work that he will give up once Sandeep leaves.