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Consumer-facing companies want govt to plan to vaccinate their employees

Want them to be considered as front-line workers

 The Economic Times has reported that consumer-facing companies have either started submitting proposals or are planning to approach the government, requesting it to vaccinate their employees, distributors and people in their ecosystem, claiming they are as exposed to risk as other frontline workers.

At present, the government has prioritised health care workers, police personnel, elderly people and those with comorbidities in the first phase of the vaccination roll out. It is being suggested that companies use their corporate social responsibility funds to inoculate their workforce.
German wholesale giant Metro Cash & Carry submitted a proposal to the Karnataka government already and is also in talks with the central government to vaccinate 1.2 crore kirana owners on priority in the March-April period of the immunisation programme.

Companies said retail store staff and delivery people work in crowded places and service customers, a key risk factor compared to many other jobs that offer work-from-home.

The country’s large population poses a challenge of logistics rather than vaccination supply. Top conglomerates such as the Godrej Group, Tata Group and Marico have already agreed to absorb the vaccination costs for their employees.

Last month, Hindustan Unilever chairman Sanjiv Mehta told ET the government should partner with private companies for their vaccination drive, to leverage on their speed to market and distribution reach. “The government should involve the private sector, so that we could also get into vaccinating all our people in the ecosystem. If there is a distribution requirement, we have the largest and the widest distribution in the country and at any stage, the government needs our help, we would be more than happy to do that,” Mehta said.

Many companies are also offering their space for vaccinating purposes. For instance, while Metro has volunteered to convert part of the parking areas of its large-format stores into mass vaccination places, the Confederation of Indian Alcoholic Beverage Companies (CIABC) said it engaged in a dialogue to even convert part of distilleries and breweries into vaccination centres.

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