“Time restrictions between 10 pm and 4 am and lockdown on Sundays would curtail production as the manufacturing units would be in a position to work only in one shift. So far, the mills were operating in three shifts. This would make over 75 per cent of the workers jobless and have severe impact on the industry,” said Ashwin Chandran, chairman of Southern India Mills Association (SIMA).
The shifts for the textile industry, which requires round the clock work in spinning, weaving, knitting, processing and vertically integrated units, is normally from 7 am to 3 pm, 3 pm to 11 pm and 11 pm to 7 am. Hence, the employee mobility will be between 10 pm and 1 am for the third shift when employees report to work, while it would be 11 pm for second shift employees to return home after work.
Most of the textiles and clothing manufacturing segments including yarn, fabric, bleaching, dyeing, printing and finishing involve sequence of continuous processes. Any stoppage would amount to huge loss, as the material on the machine and machinery condition might get affected, apart from the manpower loss.
The labour intensive textile industry, which limped back to normalcy after COVID-19 relief measures, is feared to witness another round of exodus by guest workers triggered by loss of jobs.
“In fact, the textile units incurred huge expenditure to bring back the workers from various states after they left for their hometowns following the countrywide lockdown last year. In such a situation, stopping the units during night hours and on Sundays would force several lakhs of workers out of job,” said Ashwin Chandran.
Therefore, SIMA has appealed to the government to permit them to run during night and allow employees to use transport facilities to operate in the night shifts and work on Sundays.
Knitwear firms in Tirupur have also expressed apprehension that their production will dip by 20 to 30 per cent.
“Already, crores worth finished goods were stagnated as they could not be sent due to lockdown in Mumbai and other north Indian states,” said S Maheswaran, a textile firm owner.