Coimbatore

Industries face challenges as migrant workers return

For the last few days, there are reports of migrant workers who have returned to Coimbatore district testing positive for COVID-19.

This has created concern among industries and also brought to light the need for guidelines that industries need to follow when they bring the workers back.

“The situation is not alarming. But, industries need to be cautious. If they take the precautions, the risk of spread of COVID-19 among the workers can be controlled,” says District Collector K. Rajamani.

P. Nallathambi, president of Coimbatore SIDCO Industrial Estate Manufacturers Welfare Association, says that industries want to bring workers from other States back at any cost because they cannot keep the production facilities idle. The small-scale units can check temperature, use oximeter, and provide hand sanitisers. If the workers have symptoms, they can be checked for COVID-19. But, the MSMEs industries do not have clarity on several issues, such as availability of testing facilities, he says.

According to G. Ezhil, chairman of the Institute of Indian Foundrymen, Coimbatore, the medium and large-scale foundries operate at 50 % capacity because of limited orders and availability of workforce.

“There is no proper procedure related to migrant workers returning. We had appealed to the Chief Minister to create a separate quarantine facility for migrant workers who come back. The industries should not be closed if the workers test positive. That is not the solution,” he says.

"In rural areas, there is no clarity on where the workers can be tested. Smaller units will not be able to bear the complete cost to test all the workers," says one small-scale industry owner.

Several industries ask the high-risk category workers to stay back in the accommodations. Some ask the workers to go to the ESI hospital and get tested, if they have ESI membership.

In the case of textile mills, some mills have got the workers back and some are waiting for the situation to improve.

“Industries need to have strong standards operating procedures. The managements will have to take responsibility and keep the workers who return on mandatory two-week quarantine. The workers need to be tested before they resume work at the units. This is to also ensure the other workers are safe,” says Ravi Sam, chairman of the CSR, Affirmative Action, Sustainability sub-committee of Confederation of Indian Industry, Southern Region.

When industries take the required precaution, the respective unit and the district benefit.

The units will have to restrict the movement of the workers, use thermal scanners, and ensure the workers maintain physical distance.

This is critical now. If they need any clarity on the steps they should take regarding migrant workers coming back, the industries can contact the district administration. If needed, a meeting can also be organised, adds the Collector.

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Printable version | Aug 6, 2020 7:40:11 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Coimbatore/industries-face-challenges-as-migrant-workers-return/article32046935.ece

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