Lockdown brings down work, earnings for handloom weavers in Coimbatore

A weaver from Sirumugai in Coimbatore District. File   | Photo Credit: E. Lakshmi Narayanan

For several handloom weavers in Coimbatore district, the lockdown that came into force last month to control the spread of the pandemic has resulted in either less work or less pay.

For instance, 64-year-old Varadaraj at Alakombu near Sirumugai used to weave four sarees a week and earn ₹ 1600 a saree. Now, he weaves two sarees a week and the payments are not regular, he says. “Even if we get ₹ 100 or less, we take it because we need the money,” he says.

For the handloom weavers in Sirumugai area, raw silk comes from Karnataka and the sarees woven are sent to Bengaluru for sales. With lockdown in Karnataka too, there is no movement of silk yarn or the sarees. The months of May and June are peak seasons because of weddings. Last year and this year, sales during these months were completely affected, he says.

Manoharan, a master weaver near Negamam who sells to private traders, says the weavers were given jobs for about two weeks after the lockdown. After that, the master weavers did not have raw material. “Most of the weavers are idle now. They have no work. We do not have raw material and with no sales, we are unable to pay the weavers too,” he says.

“Weavers in Coimbatore district may have stocks worth ₹ 50 crore. They are the worst hit because of the lockdown. The government should pay ₹ 5000 compensation to each handloom weaver,” he said.

In the case of Sirumugai, most of the products are sold to Cooptex. An official at Co-optex said the weavers were given the production plan for 2021-2022 and production is going on. However, since most of its retail outlets in Coimbatore, Tiruppur, and Erode districts remain shut because of the lockdown, there is no sales now.

An official in the Handloom Department here said that about 60 weaving societies in the district, with 30,000 handloom weavers, have been given work to the weavers during the lockdown too. There is no drop in work, but there are no sales. So, there are stocks. However, sales will pick up immediately after the lockdown. “This year, we were better prepared for the lockdown based on last year’s experience. Hence, we planned ahead to ensure weavers continue to get work,” the official said.

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Printable version | Aug 1, 2021 2:17:19 PM |

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