As COVID-19 cases are growing in India and many states are opting for lockdown, apparel exporters are concerned over possible imposition of lockdowns.
The apparel exporters have urged the Government to keep factories free from lockdowns and requested for essential service sector tag for the labour-intensive apparel export industry.
The apparel export industry has only recently come back on track –with migrant labourers back, orders have started stabilising and exports are looking up. The lockdown, at this point, will disrupt the last one year of hard work put in by the industry to get back on the global map and on the road to survival.
For ensuring uninterrupted manufacturing at factories, Apparel Export Promotion Council (AEPC) has written letters to Home Minister Amit Shah, Health Minister Harsh Vardhan, Textiles Minister Smriti Irani, Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal, their Secretaries and Chief Ministers of some states including Tamil Nadu.
“The industry, which supports over 13 million workers directly and many more indirectly, in rural and backward areas and largely comprises MSMEs, will be severely impacted by the disruption, if the lockdown is again imposed in the factories,” AEPC Chairman Dr. A. Sakthivel wrote in his letters to the Government.
He further added that being one of the most labour-intensive industries, while apparel exporters are concerned about the health and safety of the workers, they are also concerned about their livelihoods.
He claimed that all factories have been taking stringent measures and following strict health protocols, as per the MHA guidelines and other advisories.
The regular tests and check-ups are also being done. The apparel exporters are willing to follow even more strict safety measures but would want to avoid even partial lockdowns.
Requesting for exempting the apparel export industry as an essential service sector, Dr. A. Sakthivel added such lockdowns create widespread disruption and impact not just in the short term but also the long-term health of the industry.