NEW DELHI: Godrej Properties Limited in partnership with Dasra, has launched the report ‘Inclusive by Design: Cementing the Future for Informal Workers in India’s Construction Sector’.
The report provides actionable insights on the systemic barriers that heighten the vulnerability of informally employed workers in this sector.
The construction sector is the single largest absorber of informal and migrant workers in India. Due to the low entry barriers, the industry employs a large chunk of India’s surplus non-agricultural workforce. This is furthered on account of fast-paced urbanization and a high demand for low-skilled workforce.
Godrej Properties Limited has continued to uphold its commitment towards worker welfare even as the pandemic paralysed industry operations. Thousands of workers continued to stay on at GPL’s construction sites as they were provided with meals and sanitized living conditions through the lockdown. The unprecedented situation however brought with it the realization that millions more were impacted and there was a lot more to be done.
Pirojsha Godrej, Executive Chairman, Godrej Properties Limited, stated: “As we emerge from the pandemic, India’s real estate and construction industries are faced with a choice, to rebuild as before or to reset the foundation to one that befits an industry of the future that places worker wellbeing at the core of sustainable business. In these challenging times, the onus lies with us, to chart the future as one where workers join out of aspiration rather than distress.”
Furthermore, the report delves deep into the journeys of informal migrant workers to reveal the inequities arising from the primary breakpoints impeding their progress linked with phenomenon of migration. The challenges they face have been analyzed across source, destination and at systemic levels. A gender lens has been adopted, given the exclusionary practices towards women in the sector.
Construction employs the largest number of informal and migrant workers of any industry in India10 times more men than women are employed. The demand for women is limited due to gendered societal norms and skill gaps. Women earn at levels 30- 40% lower than their male counterparts, specifically in urban areas.
The ‘key breakpoints,’ at a glance are: Government and policy are backed by a strong legal framework but focus is needed on implementation; industries survive due to underpaid informal migrant workers amidst paucity of local workers; contractors who are primarily responsible for recruitment and welfare, are often mired in informality themselves; exclusionary practices and policy inaction make gender equity a growing concern in construction; communities share experience of distress from source to destination and over generations.
The report also covers profiles of credible non-profit organizations doing noteworthy work to alleviate the existing situation. Finally, the report provides a stakeholders-wise breakdown of critical next steps to achieve Sustainable Development Goals, namely: No Poverty, Gender Equality, Decent Work and Economic Growth, Sustainable Cities and Communities & Partnerships for the Goals.
There is now an opportunity for industry leaders and the Government to lead the way towards an inclusive future of work by targeting a holistic transformation, bridging identified systemic barriers, and promoting greater dignity and equity for informal workers in the construction sector.