Bring migrant workers back: Noida’s garment units tell UP govt - Hindustan Times

Bring migrant workers back: Noida’s garment units tell UP govt

BySanjeev K Jha, Noida
Jun 10, 2020 11:53 PM IST

More than a month after the garment manufacturers in Noida were allowed by the state government to resume operations (during the third phase of the nationwide lockdown) city apparel units are still struggling to get back on their feet. According to industry owners, these units are facing acute workforce shortage caused by a mass exodus of migrant workers to their home towns during the lockdown.

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If garment exporters in the region are to be believed, the workforce shortage will not only hit their productivity but will also lead to major losses in their annual turnovers. Keeping such concerns in mind, the Noida Apparel Export Cluster (NAEC) in a letter to the principal secretary (MSME and export promotion) on Thursday requested the state government to arrange an adequate workforce and said the Noida garment industry needs over two lakh workers immediately.

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In response to the letter, Navneet Sehgal, principal secretary (MSME and Export promotion) said a list of over 65,000 workers who will resume work soon has been sent to NAEC on Saturday. He added that the government had reached out to these workers who have agreed to come back and work. “ In a day or two, these workers will report to their respective apparel units,” said Singhal.

In its letter, NAEC had said the industry needs tailors and other support staff and the requirement of two lakh workers is likely to be double in the next few months. “Also, another five lakh workforce will be needed for the mega Apparel Park at Sector-29 near Yamuna Expressway, which is likely to come up soon. The Yamuna Expressway Industrial Development Authority (Yeida) has already initiated the process of land allotment to the readymade garment investors, to set up nearly 150 apparel units there,” the letter read.

Lalit Thukral, president, NAEC, said they had received the list of workers from the principal secretary along with their contact details. He added that despite being the second-highest employment provider (after the agriculture sector) in the state, the garment industry has so far failed to fill the gap between demand and supply. “Most of our workers have gone back to their home towns. When we reach out to them asking them to resume their jobs, most of them say that being with their families at this time of crisis is more important for them rather than making a living miles away, “ he added.

He further said the Noida cluster alone hosts nearly 3,000 readymade garment production-cum-export units that employ over 10 lakh workers and export garments worth around 20,000 crores annually. “But these units are now unable to resume operations fully because of the shortage of workers. We are facing a severe workforce shortage after many workers returned to their home towns,” he said.

Manoj Sahu, who runs a garment export company in Noida, said without state government’s intervention in bringing the workers back, resume complete operations is almost impossible for apparel manufacturers in the district. “Most of the workers at garment factories have returned to their home towns. When we ask them to resume their jobs they refuse our offers and prefer to be with their families. We have been allowed to operate with the full workforce now, but only two lakh workers have started working in garment factories so far,” he said.

Another garment exporter Roshan Baid said the workers’ unwillingness to work in city-based industries will lead to major setbacks to all apparel exporting units. “After almost zero production in April, the exodus of workers can reduce our production by as much as 50%. Some workers are so adamant about not coming back that they have now started refusing our offers of higher wages as well,” he said.

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