Who are better workers for house construction, Malayalis or migrant labourers?

Migrant labourers can seldom be seen using mobile phones on work site. Anand UN/ Shutterstock.com.

Migrant workers or ‘guest’ workers have indeed transformed into the backbone of the construction industry in Kerala over the years. It’s been some time since they have taken up the mantle from the Malayali labourers. The skills and efficiency displayed by the migrant workers and others are quite palpable if you observe them working on the site.

For instance, in one of the sites, Mehrul is the main worker while the helper is his friend. Both of them are Bengalis and have been staying in the region for 12 years. Mehrul earns Rs 1000 a day while the helper’s wage is Rs 800. You need to give them breakfast and a Suleimani (black tea) in the evening. Meanwhile, they bring homecooked lunch which they enjoy during the break.

They start working sharp at 8.30 am and work continuously, without any breaks, until 1 pm. After a lunch break of one hour, they resume working at 2 pm. They take a short break at 4 pm to relax with a glass of black tea. Mehrul and his friend then work until 5.30 pm. They hardly take leave once a project starts; moreover, they are perfect in their jobs. The amount of work native labourers complete in three days is completed by them in a day. Besides, they are skilled stone workers and they even try their hands at other kinds of jobs as well.

If masons are Malayalis, apart from supplying separate workers for readying the surface, we will need to hire additional labourers for small concrete jobs. Malayali workers seem to demand a lot. Some of them waste time speaking on the phone or chatting with other workers on the site. The truth is that our workers have better knowledge about construction work and are more skilled than migrant labourers. But, they are sluggish and seem uninterested in what they are doing. Labourers like Mehrul or his friend can never be seen using their phones once they are at the site. Nor do they waste time by engaging in frivolous talks. 

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