BENGALURU: The Karnataka government on Wednesday issued an addendum to its existing order on a 14-day 'Corona Curfew' in the State to allow garment factories to function. In its second addendum since the order for a shutdown, the State government said garment factories and units can function with 50% workforce and adequate Covid protocols in place, starting Thursday.
The order comes as a huge relief to lakhs of garment factory workers who were staring at pay loss for 14 days, as all manufacturing industries, except the garment industry, were allowed to function. The order comes after a delegation of Garments and Textile Workers Union submitted a memorandum to the government, highlighting the economic strain lakhs of workers will be put through if garment units remain non-functional for the next two weeks.
"Despite a government order mandating full salaries to garment workers during last year's lockdown, only 50,000 workers out of lakhs could get salaries. Many workers are sole breadwinners for the family and factories closing down means they have no source of income. Many factory workers have reduced food consumption due to financial constraints. Industry picked up pace in October last year and was slowly returning to normal. The 14-day close down would have rendered lakhs penniless.
This order will ensure that at least 50% of workers get some money," said Jayaram KR, legal adviser to the Garment and Textile Workers' Union. He, however, added that factories have to be forced to strictly follow Covid protocols, including social distancing, panels to separate work stations etc.
The Bangalore Chamber of Industry and Commerce also welcomed the government's decision and said it would "strongly augur with the PM's message of balancing life and livelihood in battling the Covid pandemic". The Karnataka government had initially allowed all industrial and manufacturing units except garments to function during the 14-day shutdown.
Garment factory workers can use their identity cards to travel to work, the order added. While many garment workers in Bengaluru live within a 2-km radius of the factory and can walk to work, workers in districts like Mysuru, Tumakuru etc who travel 20-25 km for work are worried over lack of public transport.