As Eastern European countries started to gradually ease their lockdown and quarantine measures, the negative impact of COVID-19 on construction workers is put on centerstage.
In Ukraine, where there was no ban on construction work during the lockdown, job and income losses weighed heavily on workers. Massive restrictions and lack of COVID-19 protective measures were also serious problems. Workers had no access to public transport; many roads were blocked and many were afraid to go to work because of the unsafe working environment.
The Confederation of Builders of Ukraine, the biggest Ukrainian business association composed of over 700 building companies and developers, conducted a survey on May to assess how the lockdown has affected the construction industry. 56.4 percent of companies said that they did not stop construction work. 23.1 percent said that they stopped operations for few days, while 10.3 percent of companies stopped full operations and only resumed work by the end of May. The majority of companies also said that they postponed all new projects and only quarter of companies continued construction according to the schedule.
As a result, over a quarter of companies reported that they dismissed workers due to the lockdown, while 7.7 percent of companies dismissed more than 50 percent of their blue-collar workers and office staff. 15.4 percent of companies reported that they had sent their workers on unpaid leave and 5.1 percent said that they shortened working hours with a reduction on paid wages.
The BWI-affiliated Construction and Building Materials Workers Union of Ukraine (PROFBUD) said that the COVID-19 crisis in the construction industry affected thousands of workers.
“Unfortunately, this could be just the beginning of our union’s fight to protect workers. Workers should not pay for the crisis,” PROFBUD President Vasyl Andreyev said.