Trust Rebuilding with Unions & Engagement for Community Wellbeing

by Rajeev Saxena
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As we hear about the spread of COVID-19 in India on every passing day,it is important to assess not only the physical and health ramifications of the pandemic but to anticipate the subsequent emotional impact it will have on the overall wellbeing of individuals.
Humans are naturally oriented toward other humans and are inherently built for social connection.Socialisation plays a key role in both, individual and societal learning,development and even survival.In times like these when we are forced to stay at home or work with restricted manpower,observe social distancing,wear face mask and hand sanitise frequently,the new normal triggers anxiety and emotional isolation for many.Under the changed scenario,it became imperative for organisations to prioritize the health and safety of its employees during these testing times.We understood the need to rebuild the lost trust of management with our workers Unions BMS & INTUC because of their 25 days long illegal strike during Nov-Dec 2019.As a Head of Plant HR we immediately swung into action and organised meetings with key people of the Unions to evolve a fruitful strategy to involve other union representatives and workers in various COVID specific activities to protect our workmen and their families from any possible attack of this virus.We, in consultation with representative Unions formed dedicated teams which was deployed in our workers residential colonies for door to door thermal screening, hand sanitisation,support to our Medical Team for health Check-Ups,meal distribution for stranded migrant workers prepared by pool of workers and their families.Unions also served meals from late evening till mid-night for in-transit common people passing through Maihar town. Apart, the teams kept a close watch on any foreign entry in-to their residential colonies.

As a result, anybody who came from surrounding districts, states or from Red/Orange Zone is immediately identified, checked and home quarantined for next 14-days.The Team also kept a close watch on the adjoining slum having population of around 1800 families & approx. 8000 residents wherein More than 40% of our contractual workforce resides and many workers young children who were working in metro cities were returning back to their homes during the lock down.In a special awareness drive on Covid-19,SDM,Tehsildar and HR Team led by VP-HR took rounds of on-the-spot awareness session in this slum, as a result no case was reported till date.Team also kept an eye on local market activities and support management and local administration. Unions ensured tight control on local shopkeepers & vendors during ongoing lockdown.
The ultimate objective of all these activities was to keep our workforce, their families healthy and safe enough to pass through this phase of difficult times and stand stronger physically/mentally.We closely worked with our unions,stakeholders & govt. machinery and have been successful in our mission of ensuring safety of our workers,their families & surrounding population as well as smooth resumption of full plant operations with almost 50% workforce deployment.

Lessons Learned

  1. Communication: workers Unions who otherwise stand on other platform came together on the call of management during the crisis to rebuild the lost trust.
  2. Commitment: The team stand committed for their objective and successfully ensured safety of their families & community.
  3. Seamlessness: Team closely worked with all stakeholders & Management to achieve their objectives.
  4. Passion: The Team is so energized to serve humanity that it never felt the pain to serving people sometimes till midnight.
  5. Speed: The team continuously acted & provided instant feedback / report to management and authorities in case they observed something fishy in the system.
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