The coronavirus pandemic impact has caused the extreme vulnerability of workers in global garment supply chains as hundreds of thousands are losing their jobs and livelihoods as a result of brands canceling manufacturing orders. Due to this, the garment factory owners are firing their employees.
In this episode, 1,300 garment factory workers lost their job overnight on Saturday from one of the factories of Euro Clothing Company in Srirangapatna, a town in Mandya district of Karnataka.
A notice, signed by Manjunath, the factory manager, read, “The management of the company has decided to lay off the workers at Srirangapatna plant with effect from June 8, 2020, in the interest of the plant and also to save the employment of the workmen.”
“The adverse circumstances prevailing in India, as well as the countries where overseas buyers are located, have resulted in overseas buyers canceling their orders or withdrawing their orders and there is uncertainty about the market conditions. All these factors have cumulatively resulted in the inability of the company to employ the workmen on the rolls, for want of orders to undertake manufacturing activities at the plant,” said the notice.
On the same day, an announcement by the authorities was made that stated workers in the second chain of the company will be laid off, and work at the unit will be reduced given shutting it down. The announcement also confirmed that the workers will be paid half of their salary and the factory will not function.
Euro clothing Company’s factory is one of the major exporters in Karnataka and is affiliated to Gokaldas Exports Ltd. The dysfunction of the factory is the result of the COVID-19 crisis and it had removed some of the machinery in the factory earlier in the week.
According to the workers, they were not informed about lay-offs.
Roopa MV, Tehsildar of Nagamangala, said, “We were not informed about the lay-off notice either. When the factory officials shifted some of the machinery last week, we had approached them. They told us that the orders had been existing canceled and that is why they were shifting the machines. They said that it was only on Saturday that the lay-offs were confirmed.”
The sudden announcement by the factory resulted in a protest by the workers demanding answers from authorities in the factory.
According to Gautam Mody, General Secretary of the New Trade Union Initiative (NTUI) of India, the Garment and Textile Workers Union (GATWU) in Karnataka had sent letters to the Labour Department in the state when the company removed machinery from the factory last week.
Meanwhile, according to the reports, only 10% of non-food retailers have money to pay salaries. Estimates set the Indian retail sector to face revenue losses of up to 40% and predict that many small and medium enterprises in the sector will likely shutdown as a result of the impacts of the coronavirus crisis.