Clothing exporters have found themselves at a standstill due to the labor shortage caused by the surge in the second wave of COVID-19 infections.
Clothing exporters have found themselves at a standstill due to the labor shortage caused by the surge in the second wave of COVID-19 infections. Disturbed by migrant workers leaving garment clusters, demand for polyester fiber has also plummeted, proving problematic for spinners. Reports point out that companies have export orders, which are unaffected, but distribution is disrupted as the pandemic has hit container and shipping line operations.
Ajit Lakra, president of the Ludhiana Knitters Association, said the cartelization of yarn manufacturing factories and the monopoly of polyester manufacturers have led to an alarming increase in entry costs for clothing. Prices for cotton yarn have increased from Rs 190 per kg (pre-lock) to over Rs 300 per kg currently. The cost of synthetic petrochemical fabrics has also increased.
Additionally, the state has imposed lockdowns and curfews in Delhi, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra have already created fear of losing jobs among garment workers and as such workers have started to go back home. The Karnataka Employers’ Association (KEA) and the Apparel Export Promotion Council (AEPC) called on governments to avoid strict lockdowns, allow at least 50% of operations, and view textiles as essential services for exempt it from locking.
Kandasamy Selvaraju, Secretary General of the Southern India Mills Association, said Just-Style that workers will be safer in factories rather than at home given the density of the residential population in many Indian cities. He stressed that the second wave of COVID-19 is preventing crucial face-to-face meetings. âNot everything can be done online. In textiles, people have to see the patterns of the fabrics. “
Ujwal Lahoti, owner of Mumbai-based Lahoti Overseas, which supplies yarn, fabric and raw cotton to Indian garment exporters and overseas customers in China, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Latin America and Europe, acknowledges that the current crisis poses major logistical challenges. âTo maintain the workforce, workers often have to stay in the factory to avoid outside infections, so they need to be fed and housed on site. Every worker should be regularly tested for COVID-19. Organizing all this work in-house is a very important task. The factories operate with an average efficiency of 50%. “
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Lahoti said there would be losses, although customers in the garment and textile industry are being kept informed. âEveryone who can accept delayed shipments will accept them and those who cannot cancel them. Shipping companies have increased their transport costs and the number of ships has been reduced. The availability of containers is also getting very bad. It is also a very big challenge for exporters. “