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Bread feels the heat: Shortage of labourers in bakery industry

Plagued by the outbreak of the pandemic of corona virus, the bakery industry in the city is badly hit due to acute shortage of labourers.

The Statesman Desk | Kolkata |

The breakfast menu for the citizens of Kolkata lately is witnessing a change as their choicest food item, bread is feeling the heat of the lockdown. Plagued by the outbreak of the pandemic of corona virus, the bakery industry in the city is badly hit due to acute shortage of labourers.

There are around 4000 bakeries in the state, according to the members of the West Bengal Bakers Associations. The city of Kolkata, alone, has 850 to 1000 bakeries. Like the other industries, the state’s bakery sector is now struggling for survival under the rippling effect of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The city’s bakeries include labourers from various corners of the state namely, from the districts of Hooghly, Asansol, Murshidabad and so on. Fearing to be left stranded amid the lockdown, the labourers of the city’s bakeries are said to have gone to their native places before the commencement of the closure.

While some of the big bakeries in the city are managing to continue their business somehow with minimum workforce available, the medium and small ones are having a hard time finding enough labourers to keep their operations running optimally.

Grocers in some of the pockets in south and central Kolkata are having difficulties in meeting the demand of their customers as most of the bakeries in the city and different parts of the state are facing the issues of shortage of labourers. Another problem that has added to the woes of the 1000 bakers of the city is unavailability of yeast.

“Although yeast is a crucial ingredient for producing bread, it is a non-essential item,” said Idris Ali, secretary of Joint Action Committee of West Bengal Bakers Associations. “Due to the lockdown, the essential ingredient is not available and hence the bakeries are finding it hard to operate,” added the bakery baron.