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