Contractors go all out to woo migrant labourers back

Pay for flight tickets, offer bigger salaries

Published: 01st October 2020 05:55 AM  |   Last Updated: 01st October 2020 01:36 PM   |  A+A-

Migrant labourers, Bengaluru

Workers at the construction site of Mysuru Road Metro near Rajarajeshwari Medical College in Bengaluru. (Photo | Nagaraja Gadekal, EPS)

Express News Service

BENGALURU: While the country is reeling under the impact of Covid and a good chunk of the workforce has either lost jobs or facing pay cuts, the labour force employed in different construction projects is being lured back with attractive offers. Contractors attached to the Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board are offering numerous incentives, including free flight tickets, 30 per cent increase in salary and advance payments to labourers. 

But with Covid cases surging in Bengaluru, many workers are not taking up these lucrative offers. Parashurama Naik of Va Tech Wabag, a water treatment concern from Chennai, had bagged a project to set up a sewage treatment plant at Koramangala and Challaghatta Valley.

“Our contract involves civil works to the tune of Rs 297 crore plus maintenance contract of Rs 89 crore. Our July deadline could not be met due to the lockdown and with the workforce going dow from nearly 250 to just 50,” he said. “Our labourers who hailed from Jharkhand, West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh left and the only ones willing to carry on were from Karnataka and Tamil Nadu,” he added. 

Explaining the efforts put in to get them back, he said, “In August and September alone, I booked 20 tickets from West Bengal and UP with each ticket costing over Rs 4,500. I have also booked tickets on special trains and sent buses to bring back labourers. We have to meet their demands, including a good pay hike as well as make advance payments to supervisors who mobilise them.” Advance payments were there earlier too but after workers reached the site. Now, they have to be done before they start from their hometowns, he added. 

“Foremen who used to earn Rs 600 per day now want up to Rs 750, while Supervisors who got Rs 750 want up to Rs 1,000. Bar benders charged Rs 4,000 to Rs 5,000 earlier for a tonne of steel. They now demand Rs 4,500 to Rs 6,000,” he said.  BWSSB Chairman N Jayaram admitted that shortage of labour has affected many projects, including Cauvery Water Supply Project Stage V. “Things have started moving now with the workforce returning,” he added.

Bringing back labourers is affecting all contractors due to limited trains. I faced no problem as 
we finished the BWSSB STP project before the first lockdown. I know many contractors who are strugglingContractor


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