Resuming work during lockdown: Work environment, conditions witness sea changeUpdated: Apr 29, 2020 23:07 IST
Industrial units in Manesar which have been allowed to resume operations amid the lockdown are tweaking their seating plans, introducing staggered timing for workers and installing sanitation amenities, among a slew of other strict measures the district administration has ordered to prevent the spread of Covid-19 as the district, and the country, tries to maintain the supply chain and restart its economy.
While agreeing that the introduction of these measures is essential, industry owners warned that they would also reduce their output as fewer workers would occupy the space available.
At MM Creations in Manesar, 40-odd workers occupy the shop floor where 300 men worked till last week of March. They now wear masks at all times and are seated around five to six feet from each other in a large room, where the supervisor keeps a check on their movements. Wednesday was their second day of work in the factory, which had been closed for over a month and the change in work environment has left them all unnerved. As soon as the workers enter the unit they sanitize their hands, their body temperature is checked with a non-contact thermometer and then they wash their hands at the newly installed washbasin.
“These measures are tough to implement and will definitely cause loss of productivity, but these are desperate times,” said Manmohan Gaind, CEO of MM Creations, which makes couture clothing and home furnishings. The more pressing worry for industry owners was space optimization, Gaind said.
At V&M Industries, which makes and exports leather goods, the owners are trying to ensure that all steps are taken to keep production compatible with norms of physical distancing. Its three floors now have all of 50 workers as opposed to 250-300 workers earlier.
The entry gates are marked with strips of yellow tapes pasted six feet apart to ensure workers don’t huddle while entering, no-contact thermometres have been placed, and instruction charts and posters pasted on the wall as constant reminders.
“We are training two HR employees so they can give daily live demonstrations to workers to follow the norms. Audio recordings on precautions are being created and this shall be broadcast after every two-three hours,” said Suman Chawla, owner of the firm.
A large hall in the factory has also been turned into a dormitory for 25 workers, whose meals have also been taken care of, she said, adding that as and when more workers come back their living arrangements would be made.
The industrialists grudgingly admit that though implementing the safeguards came at great cost, they were better than risking the spread of Sars-Cov-2. “We are disinfecting the factory, entry and exits, masks and sanitizers are being issued, but the most difficult thing is maintaining the correct physical distance while working on machines. Sometime people pass by each other and it is difficult to remain six feet apart,” said Pradeep Kumar, owner of Gaps enterprises based in Udyog Vihar.
The workers, who are new to this environment, are also unnerved by the change in work culture but said they would adapt as there was no alternative.
Ramesh Kumar, an industrial worker who lives in nearby Kasan village, said that working in such a strict environment was difficult but there was no option. “We have to earn a livelihood and keep ourselves safe from the coronavirus. Last few weeks have been quite difficult, so we want to work and all of us will remain disciplined despite the discomfort,” he said.
Auto major Maruti has also introduced similar measures at its plant in Udyog Vihar, where the company has been permitted to make PPEs, ventilators and other equipment.
Kuldeep Janghu, president of Maruti Suzuki Kamgar Union, said workers’ body temperature is checked when they enter the factory, they wash their hands, wear masks and undergo other safety checks to ensure there is no spread of Covid-19.
“We are aligned with government of India’s directives to fight the Covid-19 pandemic and are working towards the safety and well-being of our employees and communities around our manufacturing units. Our teams are coming up with ways to ensure proper social distancing and hygiene are maintained whenever we resume production,” a company spokesperson said.