In June 2016, the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC) announced the Joint Venture between Qatari contractor Al Balagh Trading & Contracting, and India's biggest construction firm Larsen & Toubro Limited (ABLTJV) as the main contractor for Al Rayyan Stadium.
As early adopters of the SC's Workers' Welfare Standards (WW Standards), the SC recently recognised ABLTJV for their commitment to ensuring that workers' rights are protected every step of their journey with the company – from recruitment fees reimbursements, to the timely payment of wages, or providing access to remedy.
Upholding the SC's stringent WW Standards takes commitment and strong management. At ABLTJV Hitendra Bahadur is the go-to person for workers. Bahadur, a former Commanding Officer with 34 years of experience in the Indian Army, was appointed as the SC Project Workers' Welfare Officer (PWWO) a year ago and is responsible for ensuring that workers' wellbeing is always a priority.
"I have a close relationship with every worker. They can walk into my office or call me at any time. Military life teaches you to maintain contact and stay tuned to the needs of your team round-the-clock," says Bahadur.
"The concept of welfare has to be understood not just by the WWOs but by the project management team. Workers spend a significant part of their time on-site with their supervisors. For a project manager, the work on-site is important. So as WWOs our job is to balance the needs of the project with that of the worker," he says.
His daily contact with workers gives him insights into their needs and motivations. "Many of our workers hail from poor towns – and are sometimes sole earners for entire families. Their primary focus is getting a regular salary to support their families back home and for their own basic needs like food, accommodation and transport. Our job to make sure they are looked after and have a home away from home with us."
ABLTJV were also among the first contractors to adopt the Workers' Welfare Forums (WWF) established by the SC as one of its grievance mechanisms. The WWF allows workers to share their issues and opinions in a fair and open environment. ABLTJV recognised the importance of this platform in giving workers a voice and have shown a strong commitment to their effective delivery. The SC-Building and Wood Workers' International Joint Working Group (SC-BWI JWG) observed the proceedings of the WWF run by ABLTJV and noted that they were well-managed resulting in free and productive discussions.
One of the most common grievances raised in the WWF was the lack of salary increments. As such, ABLTJV worked closely with the SC to establish a positive culture of growth for its workforce. In the last year, more than 700 workers were provided with free training and skill-based certification, and many workers were promoted to higher positions.
Abdulaziz Sulaiman, 28, from Ghana, transitioned from a labourer to a lifting supervisor, under ABLTJV. "As individuals, we must first know ourselves, our strengths, and seize every opportunity to grow. I am happy with the opportunities that I received at ABLTJV," he commented.
The ABLTJV management team, working closely with their WWOs and elected worker representatives, are leading the way in enhancing the lives of their workers. They are a great example of what can be achieved when there is a genuine commitment to workers' welfare.