Migrant workers are urged not to leave export hubs.
Fearing a mass migration of migrant workers in the aftermath of the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, exporters in some main hubs have begun advising their workers not to leave the factories this time, just as order flows are improving.
Large-scale migration in the aftermath of a pan-India lockdown in March last year not only wreaked havoc on jobs, but also crippled company production lines, especially in labor-intensive industries like textiles and garments, footwear, and gems and jewellery.
“We are asking our staff not to quit unexpectedly this time,” Raja M Shanmugham, managing director of garment supplier Warshaw International and president of the Tirupur Exporters’ Association, told FE. We are assuring them that we are here to assist them and that there is no need for them to be concerned about the growing number of Covid cases. Their awareness level has also increased.”
The Tirupur cluster employs approximately 6,00,000 people, with 1,000-odd units, the majority of which are MSMEs. About half of them are seasonal labourers. It is the country’s largest textile hub, accounting for roughly one-fourth of total apparel exports. Garment orders from the United States, India’s largest market, have resumed.
Some of the exporters have started to advise their employees at Surat, the country’s largest diamond hub with around 20,000 units. “We are more ready to take care of the workforce this time around. You, too, know the protection parameters more clearly. Hopefully they will not quit even if the cases rise again,” said a Surat diamond exporter. In Surat, 9 out of ten rough diamonds are cut and polished worldwide. The city is also a major textile centre.
Although exporters claim there is no current initiative to incentivize workers to stay, they believe it would be a win-win situation for both parties, as labourers, too, are in desperate need of money after almost a year of low pay.
Exporters fear that if migrant workers begin to leave, it will disrupt their output at a time when order flow from key markets is the. Exports of gems and jewellery, for example, increased by 79 percent year over year in March, while textile exports increased by 28 percent and leather exports increased by 22 percent.
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Migrant workers are urged not to leave export hubs. Migrant workers are urged not to leave export hubs. Migrant workers are urged not to leave export hubs. Migrant workers are urged not to leave export hubs.