Samtse business suffer from labour shortage

The manufacturing plants in Samtse are, for once, working at full capacity, hiring students on vacation as labourers.

The plants have been suffering from labour shortage in recent years after the government reduced the number of labourers they can hire from across the border.

In the past, scores of Indian labourers crossed the border into Bhutan to work in the manufacturing plants every morning.

The government however decided to reduce the number of labourers each business firm may hire to help tackle the growing unemployment problem among the Bhutanese youth.

The Bhutan Fruit Products Private limited, one of the manufacturing palnts, says while the  government’s concern is genuine, Bhutanese youth are not willing to work full time as wage labourers.

“We recruited Bhutanese labourers but most of them quit after working for a few weeks or months. We encouraged them to stay by giving incentives, yet they refused to work,” said Tshewang Penjor, the deputy general manager.

Finding labour is not a problem during the winter when school children are on vacation.

“During this time of the year we can increase our production but our production goes down during the summer when students go back to school.”

Currently, the company has employed 35 students. For the students, the job is an opportunity to earn some money to meet school expenses.

“I took up the job to earn some money which I will use to buy books and school uniform,” said Ngawang.

His friend Singye Dorji joined for the same reasons, as he says “to help my parents, I don’t want to be a burden to them, gain work experience and earn money for my school expenses.”

For now, all is well at the Bhutan Fruit Products Private limited but the winter vacation will soon end and once again, it will be struggling to find ready, willing labourers.

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