Up-Lifting Construction Labor
– By K P BANEY
Wherever you go, you see some construction activity. The construction Sector is simply booming. The Construction Sector is largest employer of people, bulk of whom are farm-laborers, daily wage earners. Small quantity, among them, is educated and skilled. Majority is illiterate, or scantly educated.
The labor in construction sector is mostly migratory, mostly coming from out of State, and is shifting from one site to another. Due to Gypsy type of nature, they are not able to own any type of residential accommodation. They do not even get place in slumps. Due to their very nature of shifting, they cannot give education to their children. They are not at one place, so which school they should send their children into, and in which language they should teach them?
Because they remain large intervals of time out of their own villages / State, their own lands, if any, are snatched away by their relatives, or illegally transferred by revenue Officers. They always remain unsettled, and unprotected. They always remain poor.
Builder or contractor, who employees this labor, directly or indirectly, can make a huge difference in upbringing this labor, who do not indulge in begging or stealing, but believe in to put in hard work and earn their living. Builder/ contractor can definitely take this as social responsibility, main among other social and charitable works, they undertake.
Builder/ contractor can be instrumental in all, or most of the following things:
Provide potable drinking water on their work-sites.
Most of the time, no attention at all is given to this aspect. Water for drinking purposes should be from municipal sources. If it is from well, or tube well, it should be soft, and free from hard salts or harmful coli. Cheaper arrangements of filtration could be undertaken on site by keeping 18″ dia (or bigger) hume pipe, vertical, full of sand, and passing water from this sand media. Boiling water, and adding chlorine in required quantities, could also help. Many diseases come from the quality of water. Equal attention is required in storing the water, and periodically cleaning the storage tanks. Providing potable water to working labor will greatly help in keeping them healthy.
Provide hygienic toilet facilities on site.
Laborers are also humans. If we can have indigestion or bad stomach, why can’t they have the same? Providing reasonable toilet facilities on site, will save lot of their time and increase productivity. It will keep surrounding sites clean. Besides, site-toilets will give dignity to labor.
Provide adequate site training to labor, in whatever work, they carry out. Increase their skills; increase their knowledge of that particular subject. In short, go on hammering “dos and don’ts” to them almost daily. Give a person same type of work, day in day out. By this he shall acquire some skill in it. This exercise will greatly reduce mistakes, and greatly help in achieving quality and productivity.
Provide Crèches, if possible.
Where sufficient labor force is employed, learn to provide crèches. This will take care of children on site, and reduce wastage of materials. It will reduce accidents. Parents will be able to work without any tension of their children, and thus give better productivity. Children, who are future citizens, will start learning, including hygiene, manners at the very young age. It will make them responsible and law abiding citizen, when they grow. Small child, when he wishes you good-morning, or Namaste, it gives altogether a different joy. When children learn, they also pass on learning to their parents. Parents start loving their children, and caring for them. It creates a notable social uplift cycle.
Teach Labor to be Hygienic and un-alcoholic.
Small lectures in the labor-colonies (irrespective of the number) on hygiene will make them aware of the pitfalls. Once-in-a-while a movie on hygiene could be shown to them. Or regular movie (it could be even small parties on pay-day etc) could be arranged to be screened on site, where lessons on hygiene; negative points of alcoholic addiction, issues on beating of spouse, saving habits etc, could be hammered- in, in small doses. Care should be taken that this kind of teaching should be casual and in small lectures, so that subject is properly absorbed by them.
Make them save.
In a very freak fire on small site labor camp, Woman labor lost Rs. 50,000/-, a note bundle half burned. She was saving to repay loan, which she had taken from a moneylender, back in her village. You regularly read of suicides of farmers. They do not have savings. Whenever they need money, they borrow from sahukar, at very high rates of interest. They get caught in the web. Encourage them to open bank accounts. Bank accounts can be opened with Rs 10/- deposit only, without hassles and on mere recommendation in writing from the Builder/ contractor. Once they know that their money is safe and cannot be withdrawn, or appropriated by others, they will get habit of saving. This is a tried method. They will not loose money to loafers, money cannot be stolen, or burnt; money will not always be handy for liquor. After they start saving, next step will be to guide them to invest properly. They will indeed be a happier lot.
The suggestions are very few. The portfolio could be enlarged. And it is not difficult to achieve. Only our attitude requires a little change. Slight expenditure in this direction will work wonders in upbringing lives of our labor, our most important Human Resource.