Most of them were employees of drayangs

Tshering Namgyal | Mongar

More than 60 people who have lost their source of income or experienced a reduction from working in small businesses and hotels have applied to the Druk Gyalpo’s Relief Kidu or taking up other jobs as an alternative source of income.

Six entertainment centre employees (five women and one man) started working with the dzongkhag thromde office on daily wage since yesterday. They earn about Nu 7,000 a month for cleaning and beautification work.

Kelzang Choden, 20, decided to work for the thromde after her Drayang closed. Her last income was Nu 3,000 before the drayang closed on March 16. She paid Nu 2,500 in rent and bought essentials worth Nu 4,000 on credit with her employer standing as guarantor.

The earnings from each artist are divided between the owner and the artist on a 50:50 basis. They are not paid a salary. “My earnings last month around 6,000 and I got only half of it when divided with my employer. After deducting advances, there was not much, so I decided to look for other jobs,” she said.

Another artist, Tandin Biddha, 22, is looking for a job is relieved after her husband who also works with Drayang got a job, two days ago, at a local hot stone bath service.

As they work on “request system” where clients pay and request them to perform, she said, her income was only Nu 3,000 for about half a month last month. The couple rented a house in Trailing paying Nu 12,000 a month. “I am hoping that my husband’s daily wage of Nu 500 would help pay the rent this month,” she said.

Dawa Lhamo, who hired T. Dolma Draying, said although she managed to make the payment for her eight employees whose salary ranged between Nu 7,000 to 9,000, she could not pay the house rent of Nu 22,100. “I don’t know how will I pay the rent and I am thinking of talking with the house owner on request of partial waiving or discount if they consider,” she said.

Meanwhile, the lack of business has also compelled hotel owners to cut payment and send employees on unpaid leave.

Tshering Penjor, 33, a cook with Wangchuk hotel is worried after he was told his salary will be slashed by half from this month. He was also asked to take unpaid leave from next month.

“I’ve to raise my wife and child and applied for a job with CDCL after seeing the announcement on job opportunities on the social media,” he said adding that about 25 employees of the hotel has applied for three types of jobs.

Wangchuk hotel manager, Sherub Zangpo, said as there is not a single customer, employees are currently kept engaged in maintenance work like painting the roof and cleaning.

“The business is dead. The proprietor had promised only half payment for this month and asked the employees to leave without pay,” he said.

Druk Zhongar hotel’s assistant manager, Mandarawa said there was no business since the beginning of March.  “The income for this month until now is only around Nu 5,000 from three local people staying in the rooms. How can we pay the nine staff besides the hiring charge of Nu 200,000,” she said.

Hotel Drukzom has not served a single customer. The hotel was hired for Nu 100,000 a month. “ We are wondering from where to pay the monthly rent and the five employees,” the hotel’s manager, Ugyen, said.

While there are no incidents of laying off staff, restaurant owners are doing other jobs. “Since there is no customer, I am making flower pots from concrete mixture and cloth and painting them to kill the boredom,” the Sharma Hotel owner said.