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Contractors offer advance payouts and book flight tickets to get migrant labour back to work


BENGALURU: Many construction firms and contractors in Bengaluru are offering incentives, paying in advance and booking flight tickets to get migrant labourers back to work, in response to the shortage of workforce in the construction sector.

The segment was largely hit due to the Covid-19 induced lockdown with a huge number of migrant workers leaving the city for the fear of coronavirus in April and May.

Although many of them are returning to the city, it is only happening in a staggered manner.

Supervisors and workers at the construction sites that ET visited on Thursday, said the work has picked up since September and they are doing over time to ensure the project deadlines are met.

At the IOC project site in Hoodi, the number of workers is near to what it was prior to the lockdown. “We had 200 labourers earlier. The work resumed in June after a gap of two months, with just about 25 workers. But the workforce is slowly getting back as the fear of the virus is fading. The contractor booked flight tickets to bring back many workers from Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal,” said the project manager at the site.

Labhuram, a worker from Rajasthan said his daily wage has increased by 100 after the construction was resumed. “I also end up working for extra hours to finish the project early,” he said.

In some project sites like the Godrej Properties in Mahadevapura, the supervisor said the contractor had made advance payments to woo the workers to return to the city.

“Workers were given two months advance payment. There was an initial inhibition to return since the cases were rising. But now they all are more confident,” the supervisor said. Nearly half the workforce is back at the project site.

Workers said that the fear of the virus took a backseat with the growing need to earn and look after their families. “I was home for three months without any earnings. It was becoming impossible to stay home without work, so I decided to return when the contractor assured me to book a flight ticket,” a construction worker from Jharkhand said.

In many construction sites that have at least 20% of the workforce from Bihar, the contractors are finding replacement from other states. A contractor at ASN Srikaram said with Bihar shortly going to the polls, most workers are extending their stay back home.

“Even those workers who are back in Bengaluru may want to take a break during elections,” the contractor said.

CREDAI Bengaluru chairman Suresh Hari said the situation has been better especially since September.

“Most of the workers are seeing Covid as a new norm and are learning to live with it. The workforce is gradually getting back,” he said.

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