Won’t be able to pay April’s salary to workers, apparel industries tell GB Nagar officials
The garment manufacturing and exporting companies in Gautam Budh Nagar district have informed the district administration and the state government that due to absolute paucity of funds, they will not be able pay salaries to their workers for the month of April. Their decision is likely to impact at least 10 lakh workers -- both skilled and semi-skilled.
Lalit Thukral, the president of Noida Apparel Exports Cluster (NAEC), said the apparel and textile industry in the district, like in other places, is already plagued by the global crisis caused by Covid-19 outbreak. “The recent advisory of the government that wages must be paid by employers even during the lockdown period will push the apparel industry deeper into the crisis. The garment exporters somehow managed to pay full wages in March, but we can’t afford to pay the wages for the month of April. It is the high time that the government came up with a special relief package for this industry,” he said.
About the arrangement of wages to workers, the NAEC president said instead of pressuring the exporters, the government should look to other ways of making their payments regularly.
“The apparel industry of Noida alone deposits around ₹10 crore per month in the Employees’ State Insurance (ESI). Since it is a self-financing social security and health insurance scheme for Indian workers, and the fund there is managed by the Employees’ State Insurance Corporation, according to rules and regulations stipulated in the ESI Act, 1948, the government must order this organisation, to make regular monthly payments to workers associated with the apparel and textile industry,” he said.
Stating that in Noida region, around 10 lakh people are getting employment through the apparel sector --- the region exports garments worth over ₹18,000 crore annually -- Thukral further said this lockdown has affected around 3,000 export units in the district.
“Under the export sector, there are only two peak seasons for manufacturing. The apparels made in October to December are exported in February and March for the summer season. Due to outbreak of the Covid-19, most of the export orders have either been cancelled or put on hold, besides the consignments already shipped have also been stuck. Even the apparel manufactured against the order are also lying in the factories because of the ban on movement/transport. The situation has become grave as we have yet not got any receipt of payment from the buyers,” he said.
Alleging that the government has yet not announced any relief or scheme for the apparel sector, another apparel exporter Roshan Vaid said in other leading apparel exporting countries such as Bangladesh and Thailand, the government has undertaken unprecedented steps to rescue their industries.
“But in India, nothing tangible has taken place so far. Banks are not ready to extend credit due to cancellation of orders, which has also put the apparel exporters in peril. The government must come up with some scheme to save this industry,” he said.
District magistrate Suhas LY, who attended a meeting with industrialists from different sectors on Monday, to discuss problems faced during the lockdown, said around 90% of the industries have been closed in the district. “They have apprised me of their problems. A detailed report will soon be sent to government. I hope that very soon, we will have some concrete solutions,” he said.