Among the top apparel production countries, India is at the lowest rank in terms of productivity which is somewhere around 40 per cent. Despite all the training and improvement initiatives, it seems that apparel manufacturers are still unaware about how to keep their head above the tide as challenges are mounting significantly and continuously. One such challenge, which has grown much over the last few years, is the growing use of mobile phones by workers on the shopfloor.
In discussion with Apparel Resources, everyone from the floor-in-charge to production managers and factory owners unanimously accepted that this issue is a challenge and whatever productivity a factory has, 5 to 7 per cent of overall productivity gets hampered due to the excessive use of mobile phones during working hours. In a challenging scenario, where every single penny counts and apparel manufacturers are struggling to bring down their cost, this issue needs to be solved on priority basis. But is it that easy as it seems…?
One can’t exactly judge whether a phone is really important or workers are wasting time. They use it on the floor, in the wash room or even when they go for water. Apart from calls, use of social media especially YouTube, WhatsApp and Facebook is another big headache for factory management as the majority of workers waste time on the same. The issue is comparatively more with the workers who are on salary or daily wage as many of them have the freedom that even in the case, they miss their target, their money is not deducted.
Though in the assembly line, due to one such operator, the entire work of shopfloor suffers, the co-workers hardly push those who are on phone. Even when the floor-in-charge asks them to stop, they often resist and have arguments or sometimes quarrel with him.
HR and Production Departments have a different take on this issue. In most of the cases, HR teams are also helpless as they want to retain the workers, whereas production teams don’t want to have such workers who are less productive especially due to this issue. In some factories, it requires the consent of 5 to 7 persons to fire a worker on such issues. When there is a shortage of workers, even the production department is forced to continue with such workers.
“Yes, the industry is facing this issue and is trying to overcome the same. We have also pasted posters giving warning that use of the phone in factory premises is prohibited.” – HKL Magu, MD, Jyoti Apparels, Gurgaon; and Chairman, AEPC
“Though our factory comparatively does not face this issue much, but overall it is a problem in the industry as we discuss this in our professional circles. None of the supervisors or mid-level technical professionals use mobile phones on the shopfloor in our factory. Even if it is work-related or unavoidable, we keep the discussion as short as possible.” – Shashi Bhushan Jha, GM – Quality, Global Mode and Accessories, Noida
“Strict behaviour or any kind of punishment for unnecessary use of cell phone is not a long-term solution as it just has a very temporary effect. If we will be stricter, the worker will not prefer to work with us.” – Babul Singh, Senior IE Manager, Team Krian, Noida
Exceptional Cases: Many industry professionals shared that the companies or factories offering extra facilities to workers, comparatively face less of this issue as workers are more sincere there and they don’t want to lose their jobs in those factories. Shahi Exports is one of the best examples in this regard.
Mobile Theft: Some of the factories are also witnessing increasing cases of mobile thefts within the shopfloor. Many workers prefer to keep their phone near the machine which increases such incidents.
Solutions or efforts
- Proper and effective counselling about this issue, especially at the timea workerjoins the organisation.
- To develop a culture where workers refrain themselves from an unnecessary call or use of the phone.
- Seniors should also use their phone less, especially on the shopfloor.