Labourers skip work to take part in poll rallies as the parties pay them more than regular wages

Trowels are replaced with flags and the blocking chisel is taken over by a banner. This poll season, many masons and construction workers are taking part in the prevailing political hubbub and this has a telling effect on the ongoing construction projects in the city.

Many builders are already feeling the pinch and are worried about the snail’s pace at which the works are progressing. Besides masons, painters and workers associated with plumbing and other sections are also actively participating in processions taken out by different political parties to earn extra money.

It is said that each participant is paid a sum of Rs.350 per day in addition to a biryani packet and a small liquor bottle for participating in a poll procession, which lasts for three to four hours. A public meeting in evening fetches them an extra bonus amount of Rs.250 per session. The total amount works out to be Rs.800 per day, prompting many to skip work at construction sites, explains a builder.

This has been the case since the panchayat elections. Generally, masons and labourers, who hail from Srikakulam, Ongole and other places, dominate the workforce here. Employers expected the labourers to return to work after local body elections but with the notifications issued for general elections, builders have lost hope on timely completion of their projects, he explains.

It is a tricky situation, rue the builders. They have to pay instalments to banks and financial institutions and if the projects get delayed, the interests pile up. On the one hand, builders are desperate to complete their projects but they cannot afford to pay wages to labourers on a par with the political parties because it is tough to rollback the wages once hiked, says Gadde Rajaling, Chairman of the Greater Vijayawada Builders’ Association.

At present, close to 40 projects are in various stages of progress in and around the city and majority of them would be delayed by at least three months. This will escalate the project cost by a minimum of 10 per cent and given the situation, this is very bad news for builders, he adds.

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