COVID-19 has been a death knell for 10,000 textile factory owners in Tirrupur as they have not been paid for goods worth Rs 10,000 crore ( US$1.35 bn) exported to different countries. This has drained Tiruppur of all its liquidity, says Raja M Shanmugham, President, Tiruppur Exporters Association. Besides domestic supply, the lockdown has also affected new and existing orders, he added. Factory owners are also been pressured to give discounts to clients in order to support businesses.
Many factory owners have been directed by the Centre and the state to take care of the basic needs of laborers besides paying them wages regularly. Though factory owners are trying to help these laborers as much as possible, expecting them to pay for their non-working days is unethical, opines Shanmugham. He urged the government to provide monetary assistance for workers.
Measures to curb the spread of coronavirus
Shanmugam urged the government to take a few steps to contain the virus spread. These include: providing monetary benefits to laborers; introducing special measures to prevent all industries – micro, macro, small-scale, large-scale – from being victimized in this process; instructing banks to forgo at least 1-2 per cent of interest rate and further reducing this by 2-3 per cent on all term and working capital loans; extending this scheme for one year and instructing the Employees’ State Insurance Corporation (ESI) to pay one month’s salary to all ESI card holders. The money for the non-card holders should be deposited in their Jan Dhan accounts.
Leveraging PPE demand
Realizing the business potential and growing demand for PPE production, over 100 factories in Tiruppur switched to producing masks and other personal protective equipment. These factories have received a number of orders from hospitals and civic bodies in Tamil Nadu and also from other states in the country. They are each producing at least 50,000 masks everyday by using about 200 tailors, adds Shangmugham.
Earlier the machines in these factories used to be placed close to each other. But factory owners are now placing them a few meters apart. Every time an employee enters a factory, owners ensure they sanitize their hands. Putting their concerted efforts to stop the spread of Coronavirus, owners have also disinfected the entire factory space. Leading industrialists say, the lockdown has broken the supply chain making raw material procurement a huge challenge for factory owners. They believe it will take more than a year for the industry to revive once the health crisis is controlled.