CHENNAI: More than three months after the exodus of guest workers from Chennai and other parts of Tamil Nadu in the wake of Covid-19 and lockdown, the construction industry is gearing up to receive them by creating accommodation facilities at the worksite. The labourers will also receive a 20% rise in their wages.
Several builders have instructed their site engineers to keep accommodation facilities ready for the labourers, following reports that a group of guest workers from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar were on their way to Chennai.
Guest workers account for 90% of the total workforce of the multi-crore construction industry in Chennai and its suburbs.
“Labourers arriving will stay at a separate accommodation facility at the worksite for a window period of a week to ten days from the date of their return as precautionary measures,” said S Sridharan, chairman of Tamil Nadu unit of Credai.
Measures were being taken to provide routine medical check-up, dry ration and food right at the site for the labourers, he added.
“The lockdown, followed by exodus, has brought in a lot of change in the industry. It has helped the builders understand the value of the guest workers,” said Prabhu Gandhi, a building contractor, noting that the labourers’ wage has gone up by 20% and that the labourers are not expected to work after 6pm.
He added that around 30% of labourers had returned and that a few builders had also brought their labourers from Bihar, Jharkhand and UP by chartered flights.
Raju Gaur, a labourer contractor from Bihar, said the first batch of 30 labourers was on their way to Chennai last Saturday. “Nearly 300 labourers from UP, Jharkhand are keen to return to TN. However, we are unable to obtain e-passes to bring them here,” said another labourer contractor.

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