Karnataka

Job loss fear looms again as govt. asks garment units to close

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Just when the garment industry, which supports close to 8 lakh employees in Karnataka, had started receiving good orders in the last few months, the State government’s order for closure is expected to hit those dependent on the industry harder.

Most of the employees, who had been severely affected during the 2020 lockdown, are yet to receive their salaries for the lockdown period, and this is expected to continue during the current restrictions too.

“Barring employees in a few industries, employees in most garment industries did not receive wages between March 25, 2020 and May 23, 2020. Those who reported to work on May 4 received about 50% salaries and in a few cases full salaries. However, a large section of the workforce could not join work after May 4 as there was no public transport,” Garment and Textile Workers’ Union president Jayaram said.

In fact, in some cases, employees had to work and compensate for the absence during lockdown in the later months.

About 6 to 8 lakh employees, mostly women, are employed in garment, textile, silk, and dyeing and printing in Karnataka, of which an estimated 4 lakh are employed in Bengaluru.

The rest are employed in Mysuru, Shivamogga, Mandya, Tumakuru, and Chickballapur districts.

During the 2020 lockdown, the Bengaluru garment industry contributed hugely in the production of PPE kits that was in short supply in India then.

The industry had seen a high incidence of job losses in the wake of cancellation of orders from European and U.S. companies. In several cases, the companies folded up.

The situation started improving since August last year, and most industries had started hiring again, Mr. Jayaram said. “I really do not know why the government closed the garment sector while allowing other manufacturing activities. Several companies are using guards between machines,” he said.

However, a government source argued that the shop floor in a garment factory is crowded. “Workers sit at a gap of two to three feet. There have been spurt in cases in factories,” the source said.

Meanwhile, the Karnataka Employers’ Association urged Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa to permit operation of garment industries with 50% attendance during the period.

Association president B.C. Prabhakar said that the garment industry had received good order from Europe with strict timelines. “If there is a delay, it will result in huge penalty, losses, and also employment loss. Foreign buyers may divert orders to countries such as Bangladesh,” he said.

Further, he said that raw materials dispatched by suppliers are in transit, and 50% operation would help clear the materials. The suppliers, who source raw materials from cotton growers, will also be affected, he added. “Total closure can lead to people returning to their hometowns and they may not return for some time. This will put industry in further trouble,” he said in a letter.


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Printable version | Jun 14, 2021 6:57:37 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/job-loss-fear-looms-again-as-govt-asks-garment-units-to-close/article34418633.ece

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