75,000 workers lose jobs as Vellore's leather industry goes into layoff mode

Tanneries, shoe making units and allied industries have been providing employment for about 1.5 lakh workers, most of them women, in Vellore, Tirupathur and Ranipet districts

Published: 27th July 2020 08:51 PM  |   Last Updated: 27th July 2020 08:57 PM   |  A+A-

About fifty percent of the workforce in leather based industries in Vellore region faced layoffs due to the adverse impact of the COVID-19 pandemic

Express News Service

Labourers engaged in the leather sector in the combined Vellore district are in dire straits as several firms are laying off their workforce in the wake of losing supply orders amid the global pandemic.

Tanneries, shoe making units and allied industries have been providing employment for about 1.5 lakh workers, most of them women, in Vellore, Tirupathur and Ranipet districts.

The leather based firms are mainly located in Ambur, Vaniyambadi, Ranipet, Visharam and Pernambut areas.

The pandemic has spelt doom for about half of the workforce in the region as several companies have chosen to lay off workers.

“Once the lockdown restrictions were relaxed in May, several companies resumed operations, but with only skeletal strength. Now many have been opting for layoffs. About 50 per cent of the workers have lost their jobs,” says J Ruban, general secretary of Tamil Nadu Trade Union Centre.

The workers are struggling to cope with the situation as they grapple with financial liabilities.

“I have been working in a shoe making company for 28 years. Now, they are giving me work for just 5 days in a week,” laments 40-year-old N Kavitha of Pachaikuppam.

Burdened with a monthly installment of Rs 9,235 for a home loan she had availed, the mother of two children is finding it hard to eke out a living.

She says, “I have approached the bank branch and requested to defer collection of the installment until the situation eases.”

Since most of the workers are from less privileged sections, the layoffs will have an adverse impact on their lives.

“The impact of the pandemic on workers is very severe with the international supply chain getting affected. Most of them are from socially backward sections, and do not have alternative employment,” notes Pradeep Krishnan, project coordinator of CIVIDEP, an NGO working for the welfare of workers.

“Many first generation workers had a lot of hope but the pandemic has dashed it,” he added.

The pandemic has also adversely affected the balance in the family lives of workers because women have been shouldering the burden and after losing their livelihoods, they are being haunted by the spectre of a bleak future.


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