Bag-making industry hits unprecedented low

For long, Faruq Shah was much sought after for his ability to skillfully cut materials for making bags.

Then he started a bag manufacturing unit in partnership. The complications over the roll-out of Goods and Service Tax (GST) led to its closure. Later came the lockdown and his agonising life came full circle.

Bag manufacturers and allied service sectors, including printing and embroidery, are facing an unprecedented low, and without the organised bargaining capacity, they remain largely neglected.

The Kerala Bag Workers’ Union was registered only last November though it had been functioning informally since the 2018 deluge. “We lost school reopening, our biggest season, for two consecutive years. The bags stocked either got damaged or had to be given away for a negligible price, while costly machines are gathering dust. We are now trying to draw the attention of the government to our plight by submitting separate memorandums to all 140 MLAs,” said Mr. Shah, State general secretary of the union.

On June 2, the union members staged a protest in front of their homes that was widely publicised over social media.

Abdul Shaheer, who had been into bag-making for nearly three decades, is struggling with literally no income. “There were times when we got so much work, including making bags for Supplyco, that we had to outsource it. Now, even the bags we made on specific orders remain unclaimed. We cannot blame them either, as they also do not have business,” he said.

It did not help that the fate of the industry is intrinsically entwined with the fortunes of travel and tourism industry, which is one of the worst hit. With nowhere to travel, people have no use for travel bags.

“Never in my 35 years of business had I faced such a dire situation. It will take at least a year for us to return to even normal business,” said K.A. Majeed, who runs a bag shop in Aluva town.

With no separate welfare fund board, there is not much assistance to fall back on for people from the bag-making industry.

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Printable version | Jul 31, 2021 4:41:47 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/bag-making-industry-hits-unprecedented-low/article34956681.ece

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