Time and again, apparel manufacturers have been facing many temporary challenges that cause delay in their production process. This year, it’s been the record-breaking difficult winter that has created issues for the garment factories all across North India. In Delhi-NCR, majority of factories faced challenges of workers coming late and absenteeism getting almost doubled. The factories did take various initiatives and measures to overcome these temporary but important issues; however, despite all their efforts, there wasn’t much improvement. Overall, the impact was seen in the factories for nearly 15 to 20 days.
Apparel Resources had a candid discussion with some of these factories, especially those in Delhi-NCR, on this issue and it was observed that on an average, 30 to 45 minutes of late coming became a routine. Majority of factories couldn’t initiate serious measures, as workers were finding it tough to come on time owing to harsh winters. As most of the workers in North India are migratory, they travel by local buses or other cheap modes of local transport, with many even travelling by bicycle. If factories don’t allow them to work for the day because of late coming, machines remain idle and production gets hampered. So, factories are taking the middle path and accepting their late coming as much as the companies can tolerate (some factories are allowing late coming of one-and-a-half hour, but only once or twice in a week or fortnight).
Animesh Saxena, MD, Neetee Clothing, Gurgaon said, “To tackle late coming and increased absenteeism, we are guiding our workers on how to ensure good health in this environment. We make sure that they go back on time and wherever heating is required in the factory, we are maintaining that.”
A. Rehman, Manager Compliance (Export Division), TCNS Clothing Company, Noida informed, “Apart from allowing late coming, we have developed a system wherein without hampering production, workers can go to canteen whenever they feel the need to have tea and this has proved fruitful for workers as well as factories.”
Not only in Delhi-NCR, even in other hubs of North India, like Ludhiana, Panipat, Kundli (Sonipat), similar situation persisted and companies in these regions too took initiatives to reduce absenteeism. Few companies even went a step further and donated winterwear to their workers.
On the other hand, there are factories that did not change any rule including leeway for coming late. The thought behind this decision was to maintain discipline and strictness. “If winter is there, it is for the whole day and can continue for the entire season. It is all about the mindset; so we don’t think that late coming will allow any benefit,” shared an HR head of a Gurgaon-based apparel manufacturing company on the request of anonymity.
Irrespective of all the above-mentioned factors, some of the companies claim that they don’t see any impact as they are offering best working conditions and have worker-friendly policies. “During the last days of 2019, when the temperature was around 2 degree, we had almost full attendance on the shopfloor. Along with the dedication of our workers, good working condition of our factories is also a major reason that we are not impacted much,” concluded Naveen Advani, Director, The Choice Fashions, Jaipur.
Late coming and unexpected absenteeism increased challenges for industrial engineers and production managers to get appropriate replacement and line balancing.