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28 Feb 2021

Society for Labour and Development

India: New report on the impact of COVID-19 and lockdown on leather and shoe workers released

"Impact of COVID-19 Recession: Leather and Shoe Workers in India’s Lockdown", February 2021

This is a rapid assessment of the impact of the ongoing recession on leather and shoe workers in the Kanpur-Unnao cluster in the state of Uttar Pradesh in India. This cluster accounts for one-fourth of the 4 million workers in the leather and shoe industry in India. The study covered a sample of 65 workers in the month of July and August, 2020.

With the COVID-19 induced nation-wide lockdown, the international brands cancelled existing orders; further, the international garment industry asked for discounts on orders that had already been supplied and also reduced orders for new supplies1 . With India having a large domestic market for the leather and shoe industry (as much as 90% of the total), with the lockdown both tanneries and shoe factories came to a halt.

....With brands not paying for orders, workers who were not paid their dues had to bear the brunt of the crisis. Most of the workers were employed as daily wage workers by the industry. The skilled workers among them were paid some part of their dues, as employers feared a shortage of skilled workers when factories would be able to resume work.