Industry and the government are working to restore supply chains, without compromising on social distancing norms, once the lockdown is lifted.
By Malini Bhupta
Consumer goods manufacturers have indicated to government they will operate longer shifts so as to scale up production with a smaller workforce, once the lockdown is lifted, Vivek Gambhir, MD and CEO, Godrej Consumer Products Limited, told FE.
The FMCG industry has asked for permission to operate longer shifts of 12 hours instead of the usual eight-hour shifts. Gambhir pointed out manufacturing needed to be scaled up even while complying with the safety norms. “We are committed to reducing the workforce across manufacturing, warehousing and distribution while ensuring safety standards,” he said.
Industry and the government are working to restore supply chains, without compromising on social distancing norms, once the lockdown is lifted. In this regard, efforts are being made to reduce the number of trips that distributors make to the market by half. “We are also trying to get workers from factories nearby and change the practice of having two drivers per truck,” Gambhir said.
Discussions between corporate captains and the government, about a phased exit plan, that took place over the weekend saw demands for relief measures especially a six-month holiday for free trade agreements (FTA) and steps to prevent China dumping cheap goods including plastics, electronics and machinery — into India. The government has set up 12 inter ministerial groups to address issues of various sectors and a proposed roadmap for each.
FMCG firms are hoping to ramp up production to 50-75% of capacity from 20-30% currently. They will need to reduce the workforce on factory floors by half as also prune manpower across warehousing and distribution.
To prevent contagion, all companies must follow a new set of guidelines on the number of people on factory floors, logistics and even distribution. However, while instructions on providing passes to truck drivers for instance, have been issued, industry representatives have pointed out the difficulties in obtaining these persist.
Companies must provide private transport for workers –with buses half-filled to ensure social distancing norms are observed. All movement of persons engaged in the movement of essential goods “will be subject to strict adherence to norms for hygiene and social distancing as is required in the context of Covid-19,” an MHA notification says.