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Stakeholder Snapshot: Construction Labourers


Anchal Srivastava, Srishti Mehta, Ayadi Mishra, COVID, COVID19, pandemic, lockdown, labour, labourer, migrant, unskilled, skilled, contractor, subcontractor, OEM, manufacturer, material, logistics, homebuyer, homeowner, Architecture, Engineering, Construction, AEC, Stakeholder, Stakeholders, Analysis, Research, R&D, Primary Survey, Secondary Research, Development, Forecast, Snapshot, KPMG, Deloitte, EY, pwc, McKinsey, Government of India, GDP, Economic Survey of India, Cushman & Wakefield, CW, JLL, Anarock, CBRE, Real Estate Agency, Agent, Zeyka, Zeyka India

We have talked about architects, interior designers, building material and equipment suppliers and manufacturers, and contractors thus far. It is now time to learn about the labourers, without whom none of the other occupations described would be possible. This group genuinely contributes to turning the imagination into a reality. Many labourers in urban areas come from all around the country. We all witnessed a big reverse migration during the onset of Covid 19 due to an industry stoppage. So, who exactly are these migrant workers?


Anchal Srivastava, Srishti Mehta, Ayadi Mishra, COVID, COVID19, pandemic, lockdown, labour, labourer, migrant, unskilled, skilled, contractor, subcontractor, OEM, manufacturer, material, logistics, homebuyer, homeowner, Architecture, Engineering, Construction, AEC, Stakeholder, Stakeholders, Analysis, Research, R&D, Primary Survey, Secondary Research, Development, Forecast, Snapshot, KPMG, Deloitte, EY, pwc, McKinsey, Government of India, GDP, Economic Survey of India, Cushman & Wakefield, CW, JLL, Anarock, CBRE, Real Estate Agency, Agent, Zeyka, Zeyka India

According to a McKinsey analysis from June 2020, 95.2 per cent of migrant labourers are men, with one-third being between the ages of 26 and 30 (36.5 per cent to be exact). The vast majority of them are unmarried (75 per cent). More than half of them (51.5 per cent) have no formal education or have only completed primary school. The vast majority (77.8 per cent) of them earn less than Rs. 10,000 each month. Moreover, one-third (41.5 per cent) are labourers in building construction, with the remainder being masons and other semiskilled workers, and the majority of them live in various types of huts (potla, comprising 88 per cent).


According to the survey, nearly half of migrant labourers (41.8 per cent) are current smokers, more than half (60.2 per cent) are current alcohol consumers, and one-third (36.5 per cent) are current tobacco users. 77.3 per cent moved to the NCR for the first time in less than five years. In all, 79 per cent of all workers are hired through contractors. In commercial complexes, this probability can reach 98 per cent, while in residential complexes, it can reach 82 per cent. 62 per cent of residential complex workers report working 12 hours each day.

Anchal Srivastava, Srishti Mehta, Ayadi Mishra, COVID, COVID19, pandemic, lockdown, labour, labourer, migrant, unskilled, skilled, contractor, subcontractor, OEM, manufacturer, material, logistics, homebuyer, homeowner, Architecture, Engineering, Construction, AEC, Stakeholder, Stakeholders, Analysis, Research, R&D, Primary Survey, Secondary Research, Development, Forecast, Snapshot, KPMG, Deloitte, EY, pwc, McKinsey, Government of India, GDP, Economic Survey of India, Cushman & Wakefield, CW, JLL, Anarock, CBRE, Real Estate Agency, Agent, Zeyka, Zeyka India

Migrant labourers work long hours in dangerous conditions. They are subjected to a variety of health risks and accidents on the job. Dust particles, pollution, accidents, and eye strain are all common health risks cited in all projects, whether organised or disorganised. As previously noted, health issues such as cough, back discomfort, eye strain, allergies, and weariness are frequent throughout the overall sector, while their prevalence is slightly higher in the unorganised sector.


The resulting monthly per capita spending for skilled and unskilled workers is Rs. 1617.55 and Rs. 1144.69, respectively. When converted into daily per capita consumption expenditure, these values translate to Rs 38 and Rs 55 for unskilled and skilled workers, respectively. Climate change is another issue that has an impact on the productivity of the labourers. Heat waves reduce labour productivity, particularly for outside workers. By 2030, the average amount of lost daylight working hours will threaten 2.5 to 4.5 per cent of GDP on an annual basis.

Anchal Srivastava, Srishti Mehta, Ayadi Mishra, COVID, COVID19, pandemic, lockdown, labour, labourer, migrant, unskilled, skilled, contractor, subcontractor, OEM, manufacturer, material, logistics, homebuyer, homeowner, Architecture, Engineering, Construction, AEC, Stakeholder, Stakeholders, Analysis, Research, R&D, Primary Survey, Secondary Research, Development, Forecast, Snapshot, KPMG, Deloitte, EY, pwc, McKinsey, Government of India, GDP, Economic Survey of India, Cushman & Wakefield, CW, JLL, Anarock, CBRE, Real Estate Agency, Agent, Zeyka, Zeyka India

So, what exactly is labour productivity? It is the value added by construction workers per hour of work (output in terms of structures constructed minus purchased materials) and its inflation-adjusted growth over time. With the same or less resources, an increase means that more value may be offered to customers. This results in an ideal balance of higher-quality structures at a reduced cost to owners, higher profitability for contractors, and higher compensation for workers. Any one or two of these goals can be met without increasing productivity. For example, squeezing wages or margins to reduce expenses or boosting prices for owners to satisfy wage standards. However, the confluence of all three necessitates increased production. Shorter and more dependable schedules go hand in hand with high labour productivity. (MGI Report, page 14/168)


After agriculture, construction is India's second-largest job sector, and it is expected to increase significantly in the future years. According to the Arizona State University research, it employs 31 million people, with a 97 million net increase in the construction employment from 2010 to 2020. Despite the fact that it requires significant labour reform, it remains a major source of employment for the very poor and disenfranchised.


Women make up roughly half of India's construction workforce. In terms of income, job security, and basic workplace amenities, they fare the poorest. According to a 2002 survey issued by SEWA, MHT's sister organisation, women construction workers are primarily unskilled labourers. They are typically used as diggers, cement mixers, stone breakers, and transporters of bricks, cement, sand, and water. They are seldom found working as carpenters, masons, plumbers, or electricians.

Anchal Srivastava, Srishti Mehta, Ayadi Mishra, COVID, COVID19, pandemic, lockdown, labour, labourer, migrant, unskilled, skilled, contractor, subcontractor, OEM, manufacturer, material, logistics, homebuyer, homeowner, Architecture, Engineering, Construction, AEC, Stakeholder, Stakeholders, Analysis, Research, R&D, Primary Survey, Secondary Research, Development, Forecast, Snapshot, KPMG, Deloitte, EY, pwc, McKinsey, Government of India, GDP, Economic Survey of India, Cushman & Wakefield, CW, JLL, Anarock, CBRE, Real Estate Agency, Agent, Zeyka, Zeyka India

Not only that, but many of these labourers' children work as helpers, particularly on individual residential construction sites. They do not have access to schooling. Several women tie their infants to a pole with a rope through their legs, so they do not run away or end up on the road. Several children are malnourished and lack access to safe drinking water and essential nutrients needed for growth. Girl children are educated from a young age to care for babies, cook, and clean. While the boys assist their fathers in lifting supplies, transporting nails, and so on. These children have no clothes or slippers and walk around the site barefoot. Several children between the ages of two and six years die as a result of accidents on construction sites. Several children are electrocuted while walking barefoot in puddles of water during the rainy season since the sites do not have organised wiring.

Anchal Srivastava, Srishti Mehta, Ayadi Mishra, COVID, COVID19, pandemic, lockdown, labour, labourer, migrant, unskilled, skilled, contractor, subcontractor, OEM, manufacturer, material, logistics, homebuyer, homeowner, Architecture, Engineering, Construction, AEC, Stakeholder, Stakeholders, Analysis, Research, R&D, Primary Survey, Secondary Research, Development, Forecast, Snapshot, KPMG, Deloitte, EY, pwc, McKinsey, Government of India, GDP, Economic Survey of India, Cushman & Wakefield, CW, JLL, Anarock, CBRE, Real Estate Agency, Agent, Zeyka, Zeyka India

Workers with actual construction abilities, which are typically passed down from father to son, are in high demand. Wages for skilled professionals have increased throughout time, but not for manual labourers. MHT is assisting women in re-positioning themselves in the construction industry. The construction business is about to undergo a seismic shift. It will have an impact on every stage of the value chain. Revenues and value-added will be shared. A breakdown has indeed commenced and will likely intensify in the years ahead, and now the COVID-19 problem has generated an urgent need to respond decisively.

Anchal Srivastava, Srishti Mehta, Ayadi Mishra, COVID, COVID19, pandemic, lockdown, labour, labourer, migrant, unskilled, skilled, contractor, subcontractor, OEM, manufacturer, material, logistics, homebuyer, homeowner, Architecture, Engineering, Construction, AEC, Stakeholder, Stakeholders, Analysis, Research, R&D, Primary Survey, Secondary Research, Development, Forecast, Snapshot, KPMG, Deloitte, EY, pwc, McKinsey, Government of India, GDP, Economic Survey of India, Cushman & Wakefield, CW, JLL, Anarock, CBRE, Real Estate Agency, Agent, Zeyka, Zeyka India


About the Writer

Anchal Srivastava is an architect, urban planner, writer, researcher and scholar. She is a certified GIS specialist from IIRS, ISRO, Dehradun. She is a graduate of the School of Planning and Architecture (SPA), Delhi and Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam Technical University (APJAKTU), Uttar Pradesh. She has experience working at the Town and Country Planning Organisation Delhi, Jabalpur Smart City Limited, Suresh Goel & Associates (SGA), APS Green Architects & Associates, and as the head architect at SSAP and Shantiniketan Buildtech Pvt. Ltd.


About the Editor

Srishti Mehta is the author of From the Land of Mist and Snow: Haikus from Antarctica. She is a creative writer, editor and publisher. She is the Editor-in-Chief at Zeyka. She is a graduate of the St. Xavier College, Ahmedabad, and the H.R. College of Commerce and Economics, University of Mumbai (MU). She has been the India Ambassador of the International Antarctica Expedition (2018) with 2041 Foundation. She has diverse volunteer experience in natural field studies, explorations, and journalism with numerous organisations including the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS), Mumbai.


About the Illustrator

Ayadi Mishra is an undergraduate architecture student at the School of Planning and Architecture (SPA), Bhopal. She is a writer, illustrator and graphic designer. She has experience working with An Architect, Ethos India, WPF Creatives, Nivedha Foundation, SkyManga. She has attended summer school at the Hunnarshala Foundation for Building Technology & Innovations, Bhuj, and has been a finalist in Solar Decathlon India.

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