The pandemic has hit businesses hard and the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is no exception. Contract engineers and technicians who are integral to ISRO have been rendered jobless. Over a 100 contract employees who are part of the Hyderabad-based Premier Explosives Limited (PEL) that handles operations and maintenance of the Solid Propellant Plant inside the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, have been laid off.
Due to financial constraints, the management is unable to pay their salaries anymore. They have not been paid since the month of May this year.
Given the present circumstances and the reduction in operational requirements, a decision has been taken by the management to decrease headcount. Only employees who have been tested negative for the virus are working at the plant and in isolation from their family members, by residing at a guest facility. It is still unclear as to when normalcy will return.
According to reports, a total of 552 employees work at the Solid Propellant Plant, out of which 142 are permanent and 410 are contractual. Again, out of the total number of contract workers, around 394 are part of PEL. After the crisis emerged, these contract workers of PEL suffered the most with only 106 allotted work out of the total of 394 employees.
In the past, there has been a spike in the number of cases inside Sriharikota and other residential colonies part of ISRO. At that time, the total manpower dwindled down to 200 from an initial drop of 254 out of the total. Of the permanent workforce, only 88 are currently working at the Solid Propellant Plant out of 142 employees.
Post the outbreak, the total manpower was trimmed to 254 and the number was further reduced to 200 following a sudden spurt in coronavirus cases inside Sriharikota and other ISRO residential colonies nearby.