This post is an extract from a brochure that we give to clients prior to commencing construction. If you are planning to build your own home in Thailand and it is all new to you, then I am sure that the content of this series of blog posts will benefit you as much as it will our clients.
Ways Of Working
We strive to build homes to a high Western standard, though we use local workers. So, you may wonder, how is this possible when most local houses are not up to the standard that you are expecting? We can not simply impose Western ways of working on them and expect good results. It is only through selection of the best craftsmen and then the careful management and guidance we provide to them during construction along with our rigorous quality control that ensures our high standards are maintained. We understand that they have their own experiences, beliefs and customs which must be respected if we are to get the best out of them. A lack of understanding could lead to confusion or frustration so it is important that you also share in our understanding.
WORKING HOURS AND DAYS
The fact is that for construction workers, there is no standard working week, as you may be used to. They do not just work Monday to Friday, they work every day but then may take off "Buddha Days" which are on the full moon and new moon. There may be other religious days that they also take off. This can take people by surprise if they turn up to site on a seemingly random Wednesday afternoon and then wonder why no one is working! Also, one must remember that construction labourers work very hard and in difficult conditions, exposed to the elements. During the rainy season, it is wet and muddy and then during the dry season the heat can be stifling. Sometimes, they just need a break! If they have been working for ten days non-stop and then have just spent a day on something particularly labour intensive, such as pouring concrete, then do not be surprised if the foreman gives them the day off afterwards.
Aside from standard holidays such as Song Kran and the new year, most villages will have an annual festival which lasts several days. The dates of such festivals will be different for every village. If it is the time for the village festival in the village of the workers, they will not be working! Similarly, if it is the village festival in your village, work will also stop.
BIRTHS, DEATHS & MARRIAGES
Wedding celebrations can go on for several days, as can wakes following a death. These are big affairs involving extended family, friends and neighbours, often involving the whole village. This is an aspect of the Thai community spirit that is sadly lacking in many Western countries these days. However, it does have an impact on construction projects! We have yet to experience a project where there has not been a birth, death or marriage in some way relating to our workers or the location of the project. In fact there have usually been several over the course of the project. If the village is either celebrating or mourning then understand that work will stop.
WORK ON OTHER PROJECTS
The life of a construction team can be a precarious one, not knowing where the next job is coming from. Fortunately, we are able to provide our contractors with future work opportunities, which gives them some security. However, there may still be gaps between their contracted periods of employment with us. As such, in order to provide for their families, they must consider their options for employment once their contract with us is complete. This means taking on other jobs for other people and in some cases there may be overlaps between the work they are doing for us and the work they are doing for others. This can result in a reduction of labourers on our jobs, at times. It would be easy to demand that they maintain a certain staffing on our jobs, but this would be unfair and show a disregard for them and the responsibility they have to their staff and their families. Because of the fair way we treat our staff and because of the fact that we do offer them such good opportunities for future work at a fair price, we usually find that we get priority over any other projects, but nevertheless it is a point worth mentioning.
This is the third of a four part blog post... part four coming next week!