How are companies making arrangements for workers at construction sites?
Construction companies are finding it tough to restart work with the majority of migrant workers stranded in different parts of the country.
Real Estate

How are companies making arrangements for workers at construction sites?

Opening image photo courtesy: Ashwin Sheth Group

There are millions of migrant workers across the country that are employed in various sectors and are drawn to the cities in search of work. They are the main segment of the population affected the most by the sudden shutdown of manufacturing units and other activities due to the Coronavirus or COVID-19 lockdown . With no way of going back to their villages and no support system in the cities, the plight of the migrant workers is pitiable.

Evidently, the construction sector is one that relies heavily on migrant labour . Several construction and real estate companies are taking measures to take care of the well-being of their workforce.

The Godrej Group is supporting its contract labour and workers at its factories and construction project sites. It is particularly concerned about the acute problems being faced by migrant labourers. Towards this, the group has initiated focused efforts such as ensuring that its project sites across eight cities are being sanitised frequently, and have health screenings and adequate food and hygiene supplies. It has also set up isolation facilities at its labour accommodation and is closely monitoring the needs of its people to ensure quick responsiveness. Further, its leading furniture brand is also innovating in healthcare and hospital furniture to create ergonomically designed healing environments. The BMC has enlisted us as providers of essential services and given the green signal for commencing factory and warehouse operations, and the group is actively collaborating with them to ensure we meet the demand requirements. Further, the firm is also exploring how it can leverage its construction capabilities to build quarantine rooms, and expertise in mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems for hospitals, to serve the country at this time.

COVID-19 poses a very serious and immediate threat to undermine India's economic health and the health of the global economy. Among the worst affected sectors is the construction industry, which has been adversely impacted, in turn negatively affecting the economy. In keeping with its ethos, Shapoorji Pallonji Group has recognised the need to support their construction workforce of 110,000 (including 45,000 workers manning 430 sites in India, and 25,000 workers at 130 sites abroad; and also the 40,000 subcontracted workers). The company has worker camps at most of their project sites, with good living conditions as per their standards, providing lodging, boarding, transport, medical/hygiene facilities, recreation, daily briefings and communication, regular sanitization, hospital tie-ups, etc. It has now made provisions to ensure that, for the entire month of April, all personnel in these camps get adequate food and water, visits by trained medical staff and medicines as required and that isolation facilities for special medical care are created in major camps, if needed. This is the investment of the group in their committed workforce, to ensure that migrant labour stays put at their workplaces and does not need to return to their homes. The group believes that with the help of the central and state governments, statutory bodies and key stakeholders, the battle against this medical and economic adversity can be fought and the construction sector can survive the COVID-19 onslaught.

The Prestige Group, among India’s leading developers, through the Prestige Foundation, is providing meals to about 10,000+ daily wager workers, underprivileged children and the needy in Bengaluru, daily. And these numbers are set to go up exponentially in the days to come. In addition, it is also providing the same to all its daily wagers at its labour colonies across India. It has also set up a 24-hour national helpline to aid the needy. Says Irfan Razack, Chairman & Managing Director, Prestige Group, “Historically, the daily wage sector in India has been largely disorganized, as a result of which there is a vast majority of daily wagers who are not registered with the state welfare boards. In the wake of COVID-19, the Central Government has initiated a process to release nearly Rs 520 billion as a short-term relief to construction workers across the country. However, that still leaves a huge amount of unregistered labourers who have lost access to any earnings, with no means to feed themselves and their families during this crisis. At Prestige, realising that the pressing need of the hour is to first protect this section, we have started providing the daily wagers at all our labour colonies across India with the basic needs of the hour, namely food, water and sanitation. At a time of unprecedented crisis like this, we, the real estate developers’ community, have to take responsibility for all our people. After all, it is a symbiotic relationship - we are as dependent on them, as they are on us. How can we forget their plight and leave them to their own defenses in the middle of this? At Prestige, we are hoping to lead by example on this front to ensure that all our workers are protected during this time. With our 24-hour helpline, we hope to extend our help to the needy beyond the daily wagers,” he adds.

Photo courtesy: Schindler India & South Asia

Amid the current lockdown prevalent in the country, Schindler is taking various steps to tackle the challenges that have presented themselves during these trying times. Schindler India has ensured that their employees are safe during this Coronavirus pandemic. The first step taken was to let the entire workforce to work from home, with exceptions such as the on-ground emergency team which needs to be available 24 x 7 to provide assistance in case of man traps or breakdowns of their elevators. While doing so, it is essential to ensure the safety of the service engineers at site and to enable them to carry out their duties in a more efficient and safe manner. Schindler India has provided its service engineers, who are a part of an emergency response team, with safety suits, latex gloves, masks, glasses, surface wipes, sanitizers and a lot more, to ensure that they do not get affected with the disease. Adds Ashok Ramachandran, President, Schindler India & South Asia, “We at Schindler India are taking every possible precautionary measures to ensure that our employees, customers and their families are safe during this spread of COVID-19 disease. We have made sure that all our service engineers, who are a part of an emergency response team, are well equipped with the safety kit to ensure the smooth functioning.” Further, with the emphasis on safety measures, Schindler also believes that elevator and escalator cleaning is one of the major aspects that need to be taken into consideration especially with the rise in COVID-19 cases in our country. In order to have a comprehensive approach, additional manpower has been employed for thorough cleaning and to wipe down high contact surfaces such as floor, elevator buttons, and elevator doors at key locations. Additionally, to avoid touching the elevator buttons, Schindler has made sure that all their elevators are fully enabled for fitment with the Schindler PORT Technology, which enables remote operation of its elevator systems via the myPORT app. “Intensive research and development of data has also been undertaken to create this application of PORT Technology. It is definitely going to be more user-friendly with a high quotient of convenience and precautions along with major implications,” adds Ramachandran.

Photo courtesy: Rustomjee

Developer Rustomjee has taken all the necessary measures to ensure that the labourers who were employed on site at Global City, Virar (W) and Rustomjee Paramount, Khar (W), in Mumbai, are well taken care of. In a well-organized initiative, initially a team of Rustomjee employees, who stayed close to the site, was formed. They provided the management with all the necessary information of laborers living in labour camp and their daily needs. With a clear understanding of the demand and quantum, it was decided to distribute the essentials such as rice, grains and vegetables to all the workers. 24 x 7 electricity and water is available to the laborers with the company bearing the full cost to pay the electricity and water charges for the labour camp during this period. Also, to facilitate their need of hygiene, soaps and hand wash bottles were also distributed. All workers have been educated on the importance of maintaining hygiene and following social distancing. The Rustomjee Paramount site has 130 migrant labourers, whose needs are being taken care of by the group. Every worker has been given a ration every four days and these will be further be replenished as per need-basis, during the period of COVID-19 lockdown.

MAN Industries (India), a leading API grade large diameter pipe manufacturing company serving the hydrocarbon sector, has shown commitment to take care of its employees including contract labourers working in our factories in Anjar and Pithampur by paying their full salaries well in advance during the entire period of the lockdown.

Runwal Group too has taken an important step to sanitize all its construction sites for the safety of its workers. “We have stopped all the work till further notice,” says Subodh Runwal, Director, Runwal Group.

Ashwin Sheth Group recently conducted food and medical essentials supplies distribution drive at its Sheth Zuri and Sheth Avalon sites at Thane for its construction workers. The group is supporting over 1,250 workers by providing food and medical essentials to the workers. Says Chintan Sheth, Director, Ashwin Sheth Group, “In light of the current debilitating circumstances, as a responsible corporate, we have taken care to accommodate the contractual labourers who are working at our sites, and have made arrangements for their secure and hygienic stay in addition to providing them with staples and basic provisions.”

Delhi-NCR based realty group Rise Group too, has taken the baton to address the needs of its direct and contractual labourers assigned on its several projects. The group is providing food packets along with other necessary items to a strength of 900 workers at the hutments established in their project locations of Rise Resort Residences, Rise Skybungalows and Organic Ghar at Greater Noida West, Faridabad and Ghaziabad, respectively. Says Vaibhav Jain, Chief Managing Director, Rise Group, “The workers are being provided masks and gloves for their safety, and are also being subjected to medical examination at relevant intervals. Medicines, tea and milk are being distributed free of cost. These camps are sanitized and cleaned on a regular basis to control the spread of the disease. One of the most crucial need of clean water is also being addressed by the group.”

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