Home >News >India >For those working in the lockdown, it’s longer shifts, less pay

While people across the world are confined to their homes, Zoheb Ali Qureshi hasn’t seen his family for close to a month. Since the lockdown was announced to contain the coronavirus outbreak, Qureshi, the executive chef of Cross Border Kitchens (CBK), an internet-driven food and beverage company, has been spending his days cooking for customers at the south Delhi kitchen with the help of skeletal staff.

“Our shifts are long. Of our staff of 30, only about nine are coming because they live in the neighbourhood. I have been bunking with relatives in the area, because I cannot go home every day," said Qureshi, 30, adding that the number of orders has decreased.

He is among many for whom work-from-home doesn’t apply, and longer hours don’t translate into more income. With the food and beverage industry among the worst hit by the lockdown, especially after a food delivery person was found covid-19-positive in Delhi, employees are working for more hours but for lower returns.

Ajay Kumar, who used to spend 12 hours on Delhi’s roads delivering food, is now working 18 hours a day. “Work has been down 75% for the last two weeks. People are not ordering food, especially non-veg. There are more riders than orders, so I have been putting in more hours to try and earn more," said Kumar, 40, a college drop-out. During the lockdown, he has been making 1,000 a day on weekends, and 700-800 between Monday and Thursday. Before people started taking precautions against covid-19, he made 1,400-1,600 a day.

Then there’s the added responsibility to ensure the workplaces and food packages are sanitized. While Kumar spends an hour every day cleaning his bike with Dettol, chef Quershi takes special care in handling and packaging before food is handed over to riders. “We ensure there’s no crowding in the kitchen. We do daily temperature checks, sanitize the kitchen and wash hands regularly," said Quershi.

Both are worried about how long these practices will have to be followed. “I’m not sure if life will be the same again. I don’t have any savings left and I have a family to feed," said Kumar, who has been working as a delivery person for 18 years.

Quershi agreed: “Naturally anxiety levels are high. One of my staff members had a break down. I explained this is only temporary, but to be honest, I don’t know what will happen."

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