L&T intensifies efforts to retain workforce: CEO

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New Delhi, May 23 (PTI) Engineering and construction major Larsen & Toubro (L&T) has intensified its efforts to retain its workforce post the outbreak of the second COVID-19 wave, a top company official has said.

The company said it has been able to retain almost 70 per cent of its 2,45,000 contract labourers at its various project sites on account of medical care facilities and other support measures during the pandemic.

During the first wave of the pandemic last year, the company had witnessed a similar situation when labourers went back to their villages after the government imposed the lockdown to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

'What has happened after the first wave (of COVID-19) is that much of the labourers went back to their villages and towns. With huge efforts, I can talk about Larsen & Toubro, we brought many of them back,' company's CEO and managing director S N Subrahmanyan said. Explaining the present situation, he said that around March-end, 'we had about 2,45,000 labourers on our rolls. It has come down to about 1,71,000 now. So, there has been some people who have gone back, one could say that. But we have intensified huge campaigns at all our sites, especially (at) the labour camps...to tell them that they are safe with L&T,' he said. Subrahmanyan is of view that the labourers should stay back at their current places, as in the hinterland there is a certain amount of COVID infection and due to lack of medical infrastructure at these places, there are hardships.

Many state governments, he said, are also requesting public to stay where they are because the movement of people also creates infection and therefore, there is a general feeling to keep people where they are.

The lockdowns announced by the various state governments, especially in the western and southern India where most of the labourers migrate from the eastern part, has also in some way or the other helped in curtailing movement of people too much from one place to the other, the L&T MD said.

So, all these intense and terrific measures taken by various governments are keeping labour force where it is, he said.

'We do hope, if the cases come down, we will be able to retain and move forward as we go on,' he explained.

On the possibility of job losses at L&T in view of present situation, Subrahmanyam said, 'If people are not working and they move back, if you want to call it job losses, (then) yes.' 'But it is also a possibility that there are jobs in those places, they left that and came here, maybe they have to go back and get employed there,' he explained.

The company said that the diversity of businesses and the scale of operations, with its wide array of high and mighty complex engineering, construction, technology, defence projects also requires L&T to engage skilled and unskilled labour on contract for specific projects from time to time.

Their numbers vary as per the demand from the projects as well as seasonal activities such as harvesting or ongoing pandemic etc.

By March 2021, for its small and big projects, the company had about 2,45,000 contract labourers on its roll, while currently L&T is able to retain around 70 per cent of this contracted workforce with proactive medical care and hygienic facilities made available at their camps. Efforts are on to rehire those who have gone back to their native places, the engineering and construction giant said. PTI SID MKJ MKJ