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State of handloom society worries weavers

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Future bleak: Chennimalai Industrial Weavers’ Cooperative Society has laid off many workers this year. Weavers say they want the society to be better managed.
Future bleak: Chennimalai Industrial Weavers’ Cooperative Society has laid off many workers this year. Weavers say they want the society to be better managed.

Karthik Madhavan

About 700 members are out of work owing to lack of orders

CHENNIMALAI: Handloom weavers affiliated to The Chennimalai Industrial Weavers’ Cooperative Society here are a worried lot. Around 700 of their colleagues are out of work and the society, courtesy lack of work.

The society manufactures bedspreads and a few other home furnishing items based on orders from exporters from Karur. They have been engaged in the work for a few years now.

Since the beginning of this year, the orders have been few. Not only that the export varieties that the handloom weavers wove, are now woven in powerloom.

This has not only taken away the work from the weavers, but also forced them to compete with the powerloom in terms of wages. A weaver from the Society, on conditions of anonymity, said they earned only about Rs. 12 for weaving a metre.

Earlier, increased wages in the very same export varieties forced the weavers and the Society to move away from weaving for Cooptex. Weavers’ wages in the latter was comparatively lower then, which helped the move over.

Now, the fewer orders, dependence on exporters for those orders, lower wages and abandonment of weaving for Cooptex has put a question mark over the fate of weavers and Society.

“In absence of continuous orders from Karur exporters and by not weaving for Cooptex in the recent past, have left us with very little work,” rues the weaver.

This has affected not only the weavers but also support staff. “Earlier while weaving for Cooptex, the Society had persons for dyeing yarn and allied work, who have now been sent out,” complains S. Ponnusamy of the Communist Party of India, Chennimalai.

The result of such absence of work is that 700 weavers and allied staff are out of work and are now with factories in Tirupur and SIPCOT, Perundurai. By not working for three months the weavers also stand to lose benefits like health and education assistance provided for a handloom weaver.

District Secretary of the CPI, Erode, N. Periyasamy says the dependence of Karur exporters for work should be stopped and that the society should directly get export orders. He suggests that Cooptex can do the facilitation work.

Asked about the fate of weavers and the Society, Commissioner for Handlooms and Textiles M. R. Mohan, who was in Chennimalai on Thursday, said efforts would be initiated to make the Society get export orders directly.

An officer of the Society contested the claim that about 700 workers were laid off.

He said the number of weavers without work was only around 250.

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