The coronavirus outbreak has dealt a shattering blow to the famous garment industry in Tirupur of Tamil Nadu. The industry dealt with its first blow after its business was curtailed by the cancellation of massive export orders as coronavirus engulfed the European countries, China and Italy. But now, with the pandemic spreading in India, its domestic business is also hampered.
The situation has now become worse as over 10,000 manufacturing units in Tirupur, which employs over 6 lakh people, are now struggling to maintain their workforce. A majority of the workers here are migrant labourers. Tirupur on an average exports garment worth Rs 2500 crore every month and the size of its domestic market is also about the same. Businessmen here claim that a majority of the units have not got their due for the last 3-4 months.
“Everything happened so quickly that we didn’t even get time to plan things. Train services are stopped, so we can’t even send the workers back home. We now have to run our units in one shift or even half shifts, just to ensure that we are able to provide some financial support to our workers,” said Raja Shanmugham, president of Tirupur Exporters Association. Several units have provided hostels to workers and are providing meals as well, which is further adding to the costs.
Shanmugham said they are cash-startved as the manufacturing units have not received their dues from overseas and domestic suppliers. “We really don’t know when we will able to function back smoothly. Revival of the industry will largely depend on the support given to us by government,” he said. The industry makes a business of over Rs 55,000 crore annually. Most of these units have bank loans, which they won’t be able to pay back on time now.
“Many brands to which we export are on the verge of bankruptcy. So, we are hardly going to get our dues on time,” said N Sridhar, a garment manufacturing unit owner. Equally worried are the labourers engaged in these factories. “The future is uncertain for us. We may lose our job anytime. Since the entire country is suffering, we won’t get another job soon,” said Durga prasad, a worker from Bihar.