Covid lockdown: Retailers offer incentives to staff to keep operations normal

Kolkata/New Delhi: Several of the leading retailers have started to offer monetary benefit in the form of hardship allowance, arranging transportation for employees and also have made food arrangement for them so that they don’t have to worry while at work.

Two industry executives said union commerce minister Piyush Goyal had told all leading retail chains and e-commerce firms on Thursday’s video-conferencing meeting that they have to motivate their workforce to work so that consumers are not inconvenienced. Goyal has also apparently said that the companies cannot call back the labour that has gone back to their native places.

German wholesaler Metro Cash and Carry India is offering staff up to Rs 500 per day in addition to their existing salary, said MD Arvind Mediratta.

Retailers like D-Mart and More Retail too are offering additional pay-outs. D-Mart, for instance, is offering Rs 400 extra per day. Several of these retailers said they are able to operate 80-85% of their store network during the lockdown.

Retailers said these are necessary since store staffs are still scared to come due to police beating in several states which continued even in few areas on Friday and an overall fear of catching the viral infection.

More Retail deputy MD Mohit Kampani said labour shortage in the stores is real. “We have to give confidence to the store associates so that they can resume work,” he said.

Ignatius Navil Noronha, CEO at Avenue Supermarts that runs D-Mart stores, said the retailer has almost doubled the wages. “It is just to incentivize people to come (to the stores). Obviously they take so much hardship … there is hardship to travel. We took a call that it is not about profits and even if we are losing money we have to make products available,” he said.

Big Bazaar CEO Sadashiv Nayak said the retailer has decided to take care of transportation of the employees to begin with since operational of the stores is extremely important right now.

Retailers said while local authorities in markets like Maharashtra, Delhi-NCR, Hyderabad and Bengaluru have taken a lot of proactive steps to ensure retail employees can come to work, there is still resistance in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Andhra Pradesh.

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