Panaji: The recent spike in COVID-19 cases in the state is not only keeping the local residents on the edge but also affecting the industrial production.
The Goan industrialists on Thursday said that due to the constant eruption of cases in different locations, they are forced to ask employees to keep away from work and sometimes employees stay at home voluntarily. Consequently, the production is getting disrupted, they said.
With villages surrounding the industrial estates emerging as hotspots following a surge in the positive cases, several unit owners said they fear a further disruption in operations in the coming weeks.
“Production does get affected because our company has a policy of keeping employees under quarantine if they are from a locality where there are COVID-19 cases or in the vicinity of cases,” said Sanjay Bhandari, corporate affairs manager, Nestle-Goa. He said around 50-odd employees of the company’s Usgao factory and approximately 80 employees from the Bicholim factory have been asked to stay at home as a precautionary measure.
“Employees have been asked to stay at home with paid leave and they are allowed to rejoin work with a medical certificate. The precautionary measure leads to some amount of absentism, but it is unavoidable in order to stop the spread of infection,” explained Bhandari.
Ground level check reveals that companies have stepped up monitoring of employees’ health to detect the first instance of infection. A unit in Bicholim asked its entire workforce to stay back after an employee was found to be infected. The unit gave permission to the employees to go home after making them take the COVID-19 test.
Industrial estates in the state provide jobs to lakhs of employees, but companies are fearful of contracting coronavirus and grounding the entire production facility.
“A lot of the employees in Verna industrial estate travel from Mangor Hill and Zuarinagar. They are stuck in the containment zone and companies are also not encouraging them to join. With employees asked to stay at home and migrant labour going back, it has resulted in a shortage of workers,” said Damodar Kotchkar, president, Goa State Industries Association (GSIA).
According to Kotchkar, units in the Verna industrial estate have an elaborate protocol to prevent infection from proliferating. He said that companies have been asked to act responsibly and reveal the presence of a positive case in the workforce. Yet 30 positive cases were detected in a unit in the industrial estate on July 9.
“When such news breaks out, workers in the neighbouring units get worried,” said Blaise Costabir, who runs a packaging unit in Verna and is also the chairman of Confederation of Indian Industry-Goa. Costabir said that often the infection is from outside industrial estates. “The infection is beyond our control but it is adding to the production constraints faced by the local manufacturing units,” said Costabir.