Payday pangs for Mumbai: Some pay in cash, others to go cashless

One of the 80 stalls at the Juhu Beach which plan to move to cashless payments. File picOne of the 80 stalls at the Juhu Beach which plan to move to cashless payments. File pic

How hospitality sector is tackling salary issue 

- Gaurav Sarkar

On the first salary day since Prime Minister Modi’s demonetisation of old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes, employers in the hospitality sector have chosen two different routes to tackle their predicament.

While some have changed their policy of directly crediting the salary to their employees’ accounts to now paying them by cash so that the employees do not have to waste time in bank queues, others, who have always been paying cash to its employees, are now planning on going ‘cashless’.

Mixed signals
Yash Chandiramani (25), owner of Go Panda — a pan-Asian cuisine restaurant in Andheri (W) that employs around 10 people, says, “In one of our weekly meetings, our team expressed their concern that cheques/self cheques usually given to them would be a task this time as they would have to stand in long queues. So we took a call and have decided to pay them in cash. Our team works a good 8-9 hours a day, so I can’t expect them to stand in a 4-hour long queue, report to work on time and run the place smoothly. Unfortunately, since they don’t have the privilege of a credit card or handle any transactions through digital money, it’s the least we could do for them.”

Also Read: Noteban effect: Mumbai, why chances of getting your salary in hand on payday are 50/50

Meanwhile, Ganesh Thevar, a member of the Juhu Beach Food Court Society (the collective name for the 80 stalls/eateries located on Juhu Beach that employs nearly 300 employees), stated that though their employees would be paid in cash for the time being, in the future, all payments would be made by cheque. “This trend of moving towards a cashless and more plastic-oriented economy is a good thing. It will prevent workers —who used to be paid their salaries in cash till now — from stealing that extra 100-200 rupees that they used to every month, as we will directly credit their salaries.”

Read Story: Payday in Mumbai: Banks hand out tokens in advance

According to him, paying workers in cash came in handy sometimes, as workers could take smaller advances in case of household emergencies. These advances were then adjusted against their next month’s salary.

Where’s the money at?

- Pallavi Smart

Even schools in the city are stepping to the mantle to help out the class III and class IV employees with cash during this difficult time. Rohan Bhat, Chairman of Children Academy Group of schools, said, “Excluding the salary amount, we are giving Rs 1,000 to each employee from class III and class IV rank, which they can return to us as and when they are able to withdraw cash from their accounts.

This is because they depend more on cash on daily basis. Many do not have debit or credit cards or have problems in handling bank accounts. For the remaining employees, however, salary will be deposited to their account as is usual. We have told teachers to approach us if there is need, as management will have some cash, but all payments cannot be made in cash due to the cash crunch.”

But in many educational institutions, only account transfer of salary will be done. Dr Dinesh Punjwani, principal of National College said, “We are only transferring salary in bank accounts and the staff is expected to withdraw money on their own. Even the institute should have money in cash to be able to help employees.”

'How will I pay the maid?'
Professional was smart enough to withdraw cash in advance, but isn’t sure how he’ll pay staff

Hemal Ashar

“I tried to outsmart everyone. Anticipating that pay day will mean even longer queues at banks and ATMs, I sent my peon to withdraw cash from the bank on Tuesday with a cheque. I was only allowed to withdraw Rs 10,000, but I need at least Rs 15,000 to meet some financial commitments,” says Anand Shirali (50), a professional based in Andheri.

Anand Shirali (in green) with Anna Hazare
Anand Shirali (in green) with Anna Hazare 

Shirali says, “First I have to pay a VIP — my maid — then the paperwallah, the milkman and my driver. My driver is not comfortable with cheques. He told me I can pay him half his salary in cash now and pay the rest later.”

Shirali says he has been trying to withdraw money from ATMs at Metro stations as well. “I cannot imagine this happening in a city like Mumbai,” says Shirali, adding that the demonetisation drive too had led to corruption. “Ironically, I witnessed this when I went to Ralegan Siddhi to meet Anna Hazare. This happened just four to five days after demonetisation. The Ahmednagar bus-stop had men standing with sacks of cash in Rs 100 notes. Give them Rs 500 or Rs 1,000 and they’d give you Rs 400, Rs 800 back. There were queues of people waiting to exchange,” said Shirali.

'Have been getting veggies on credit too'
The Kanchans drive around hunting for an ATM

Aparna Shukla

Vikas Kanchan (39) is wracked by guilt pangs. Apart from his maid, he has numerous other people like his milkman, car washer and vegetable vendor to pay. He said, “Since we are allowed to withdraw only Rs 2,500 a day, I don’t know how to face the people who work for me today, it will certainly be a little uncomfortable.”

Vikas Kanchan with his family
Vikas Kanchan with his family 

Ever since the demonetisation, Vikas has a unique post-work schedule. After work, he and his friends drive around street to street in search of an operational ATM. He does not get lucky everyday. He, however, now hopes to collect enough through the week to pay everyone off. “I have been taking vegetables on credit for the last month, my vegetable vendor is expecting his pay as well.” He says about the household help and others he depends on, “Just like us, they are facing a financial crunch. In fact, their condition is worse, but I will have to make them wait for payment as I do not have enough.”

'I live on rent, even Wi-Fi and electricity bill is due'
Bandra-based Deipshikha Dhankar has been banking on friends for small change

- Aparna Shukla

For Deipshikha Dhankar (25), writer, today is going to be a nightmare. “Call me unfortunate, but I have to pay everything by cash. I stay on rent and the electricity bill comes via cash, the Wi-Fi bill needs to be paid as well.

Deipshikha DhankarDeipshikha Dhankar

Today, December 1, is D-day,” she notes. Everyone right from her maid, milkman, and grocery shop owner is also expecting her to pay up. “I can’t even say no to my maid, as she is going through the same thing as me,” said Dhankar in anguished tones.

As a single woman in the city, Dhankar has been depending on her friends to help in these trying times. She says, “I’m surviving mostly on eggs, as I’m unable to buy anything from the street veggie and fruit vendor. I call up friends and ask them if they have small change. I tell them to bring some food,” said Deipshikha.

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