Majority of staff at TATA motors in Pimpri are working from home.(HT PHOTO)
Majority of staff at TATA motors in Pimpri are working from home.(HT PHOTO)

Manufacturing firms in Pune implement WFH, shop floors run on thin workforce

On Friday, Hardikar held a video conference call with some of the major companies in the area along with the Maharashtra Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Agriculture (MCCIA) and PCMC Small Industries Association representatives and apprised them about the situation post Covid-19 (coronavirus) spread
Hindustan Times, Pune | By Prachi Bari, Abhay Khainar and Archana Dahiwal
UPDATED ON MAR 21, 2020 04:44 PM IST

Pune: Following Pimpri-Chinchwad municipal commissioner Shravan Hardikar’s appeal to big manufacturing industries located at the twin town for voluntary closure for next 20 days, many companies have started putting in a place work from home measures, but manufacturing firms continue with the shop floor with reduced workforce.

On Friday, Hardikar held a video conference call with some of the major companies in the area along with the Maharashtra Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Agriculture (MCCIA) and PCMC Small Industries Association representatives and apprised them about the situation post Covid-19 (coronavirus) spread.

“There are around 40 big automobile and engineering manufacturing companies in Pimpri-Chinchwad, besides first and second tier firms that run as auxiliary to these companies. Large, middle, small and micro industries in Pimpri-Chinchwad employ around 3.5 to 4 lakh peoples, including those on shop floors, offices and facility management. Many of them have been absent and left for their native places,” said Sandeep Belsare, president, PCMC Small Industries Association, who was present at the meeting with municipal commissioner.

Belsare said, “First the major industries should shut down, followed by auxiliary firms. We will support government’s suggestions, but we need to know if the original equipment manufacturers will shut down. If the government makes it mandatory, then all firms will have to shut down. A circular received from the joint director of industries, Pune, states: “Manufacturing and production units and continuous process units should keep their operations on, but with reduced workforce”.

The companies have also received an advisory from Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC) on how to make workplace ready for combating coronavirus.

Engineering firm Thermax has begun their work from home initiatives. MS Unnikrishnan, managing director, Thermax, said, “We have shut down our multiple offices and asked 3,000 of our employees to work from home until March 31. We are making alternative arrangements for smooth workings from home, like providing dongles, upgrading home computers, remotely accessing company server and extensively using Skype and VC facilities.”

Unnikrishnan said that factory shops are open and the 300 staff working are not in close contact as the floor is spread across a large area. “We provide them transportation and the skeletal staff work in three shifts,” he said.

A note from N Chandrasekaran, chairman, Tata Sons said, “At the Tata Group, we have asked all of our companies to exercise extreme caution. The health and safety of our employees, their families and our suppliers, vendors and our larger ecosystem is of paramount importance. Our companies have largely enabled a work from home (WFH) environment. We have asked our companies in India to rapidly and extensively adopt WFH to ensure that employees travel only in the most essential cases, excluding situations in which they are involved in the delivery of products and services for the larger public good.”

He said the current situation is likely to have a large and deep financial impact on the weaker socio-economic segments of society. “During this time of crisis, our group companies commit to ensuring full payments to the temporary workers and daily wage earners who are working in our offices and at our sites in India for the month of March and April, 2020, even if these workers are not able to work due to either quarantine measures, site closures, plant shutdowns or other reasons.”

Support for supply of medical equipment

MCCIA has appealed to companies to support for adequate supply of medical equipment. “While the current Covid-19 situation in India appears to be not out of control, it is essential to stay ultra-cautious. The government and private healthcare facilities are putting in their best efforts. However, in the spirit of a heightened level of preparedness, it is crucial that these facilities have a more than adequate supply of medical equipment and relevant consumables (like N95-masks, protective gear). Some of the prominent leaders of industry and commerce have come together to set up a platform (Supported by MCCIA) to assess the potential gaps in the demand and supply of these provisions in the Pune region. A few empathetic leaders have already come forward to make a substantial contribution towards this initiative. We appeal to all industries to make a donation and step up in support of this worthy cause,” said Prashant Girbane, Director General,MCCIA.

Construction work comes to a standstill

Following the directives by the chief minister, to contain and combat the situation arising out of Covid-19, all public as well as private establishments excluding essential services all offices, Confederation of Real Estate Developers’ Associations of India (CREDAI) has decided to close all construction sites till March 31 with effect from Saturday, March 2020 starting midnight.

A statement released by CREDAI Pune president Suhas Merchant says, “We have urged all our members and all stakeholders to kindly follow Government Orders strictly and shutdown all business / construction / labour operations with immediate effect to stop the spread of the Covid-19 Pandemic.”.

He ensured that the members of CREDAI will take care of basic needs of labour, staff and their family by ensuring no wage-cut / salary deduction during this period.

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