After COVID-19: SCORE trained enterprise gets back to work

Like many small and medium-sized enterprises impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, Zhejiang Communications Construction Group (CICO) needed to quickly adapt to survive.

Article | 30 April 2020
Northern Zhejiang Regional Branch, a subsidiary of Zhejiang Communications Construction Group (CICO) supplies asphalt concrete for seven expressways covering 600 kilometres across Northern Zhejiang, China. The branch employs 56 staff, 37 of whom are migrant workers. The company began participating in SCORE Training in May 2018 and has completed the Workplace Cooperation Module. They are scheduled to start the Safety & Health at Work module in the coming months.

The Spring Festival and COVID-19

In mid-January of this year, CICO was ramping down production and staffing levels in preparation for the upcoming Spring Festival. Also known as Chinese New Year, the Spring Festival is a time of celebration when workers return to their homes and villages for 1-2 weeks to celebrate with family and friends. To allow staff time to travel back to their home villages, CICO officially shut down production on January 24 with plans to return to full capacity at the beginning of February.

About 800 kilometres away in Wuhan COVID-19 infections were spreading throughout the city, country, and eventually the world. The situation was changing rapidly. On January 21, the total number of cases in China was 222. Just a week later the total had reached to over 10,000 cases. By January 31, the World Health Organization had declared COVID-19 a global public health emergency and the Chinese government promptly enacted lockdown measures to limit the spread of the virus.

Lockdowns limit worker mobility

For nearly two months, more than 700 million residents were under lockdown orders. Unfortunately, the lockdown affected millions of migrant workers, including CICO’s 37 migrant workers who had left for their home villages to celebrate the Spring Festival before the lockdown. With little to no transportation options, many workers were unable to return to work after the Spring Festival ended.

In the meantime, CICO’s staff and management determined how to get everyone back to work safely while its asphalt manufacturing equipment sat idle.

Starting in mid-February, the Chinese government began a gradual restart of some parts of the economy. Unfortunately, CICO management knew many of their workers would not be able to return to work. Some of the workers had found new jobs closer to their home villages, while others were unable to find adequate transportation back.

CICO gets back to work

CICO worked quickly to resolve these issues. Management reached out to workers and chartered vehicles to help them return to work. New employees were recruited and trained by existing staff to ensure the branch could return to full production as soon as possible.

Management and staff also worked together to ensure a safe return to work. Pandemic prevention measures such as twice-daily temperature checks, purchasing face masks for all staff, and rigorous disinfection protocols kept workers protected from the risk of COVID-19 infection.

Using learnings from SCORE Training Module 1, CICO strengthened their internal and external communications to raise staff awareness about pandemic prevention. Management used WeChat, videoconferencing, banners, posters, and other tools to keep staff informed of the protocols in place and to encourage new suggestions for pandemic prevention measures. At the same time, CICO continued to deliver on its existing business contracts through regular communication with its customers.

Full productivity resumes

CICO was able to resume full production on March 10, about one month later than initially planned. By proactively recruiting new workers and reaching out to existing ones, the company was able to remain fully staffed.

CICO reports that production output has now reached 100% of its pre-COVID-19 output. Thanks to effective communication and prevention, there are no suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19 amongst staff. Demand for CICO’s product remains strong, and the company believes that its pandemic prevention measures will continue to protect staff as China’s economy gradually reopens.

Also see previous article Working during COVID-19: How Zhejiang Communication Construction Ltd. (CICO) is using SCORE Training to keep workers safe.