The Central Public Works Department, or CPWD, the central government’s premier agency tasked with carrying out road and other public sector construction works, on Thursday recommended a set of guidelines to construction companies that could help recruit construction workers for their sites in the post-Covid phase.
The nine-point guidelines, proposed by the Construction Industry Development Council (CIDC), suggest a ‘Covid-19 allowance’ of 75 per cent of daily wage, clean accommodation and three meals a day for workers.
The CIDC is an autonomous council jointly set up by the erstwhile Planning Commission, now NITI Aayog, and the Indian construction industry.
The CPWD circulated these guidelines, “recruitment of skilled/ semi-skilled/unskilled construction workers”, to public and private sector construction companies on Thursday.
The director general (DG) of the CIDC PR Swarup had proposed these guidelines on May 2, and the CPWD letter said its DG has approved.
In the preface to the guidelines, the CIDC stated that the “present exodus of migrant labour across Indian cities who have been engaged with construction projects/ industry and other urban activities has created a void that will be hard to fill post Covid”.
It stated that there are questions that all need to answer, for example whether the migrants who “have returned to their native places ready to return back to cities?”
Second, “what are the challenges that organizations will face to attract and retain the labour force post this pandemic?” Third, “are the projects going to suffer incessantly for want of labour?”
“These are some of the questions that project owners and implementers will be confronted once the lockdowns open up and projects need to be started,” the CIDC stated.
It said that the “CIDC with its proactive approach has been engaging with migrant labour that has returned back home as well as other stakeholders and would be happy to help project owners and implementers mobilize labour at their work sites.”
The CIDC said, before being sent to work, it will conduct a screening test for all labourers to determine whether they are skilled, semi-skilled or unskilled.
“Any organization may also avail CIDC training facilities or help of CIDC expert trainers to 'up-skill their labour force at their respective work sites,” it proposed.
“In order to mobilize workers at your site and to ensure their retention for a longer duration, we at CIDC have devised guidelines that will help you devise your forward activities and kickstart your projects,” the CIDC stated.
According to the new guidelines, the CIDC has proposed Rs 600 minimum wage per day for skilled workers, Rs 500 for semi-skilled and Rs 400 for unskilled workers.
Significantly, it has recommended a ‘Covid-19’ allowance of 75 per cent of the minimum wage to all workers.
The CIDC said the wages suggested “are the base wages for different worker categories. However, the minimum wages may vary depending on the trade, skill sets possessed by the workers, work experience and expertise.”
“Please be informed that the proposed wage structure has been designed based on the feedback received by us and the employer would reserve the right to negotiate,” the guidelines state.
The CIDC has suggested “neat, airy, spacious accommodation to be provided to each worker” and workers should be provided with insurance and medical care both at the construction site as well as labour camps.
The CIDC has asked employers to provide PPEs (personal protection equipment) to all workers and proper safety orientation and training to be provided on site at regular intervals.
“Three free meals to be served which should be wholesome and nutritious. For groups wanting to cook regional cuisine, separate kitchen, utensils and rations to be provided for groups,” the guidelines state.
“Extra hours of work and payments thereon to be defined. One holiday per week and other statutory holidays to be defined and the worker to be informed accordingly,” the guidelines state.
The guidelines further state that workers should be provided onsite training and certification opportunities to upskill with a clear graded career growth plan.
The guidelines state they be provided support to travel to their native places in times of any calamities/ pandemic and natural disasters or adequate arrangements to be made at site for their accommodation/food payment of wages till the event subsides.