India’s economy is suffering one of the worst economic slowdowns in its history, in line with the global destruction caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. As a result, the companies/factories coming under Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSEMs) have been severely affected by the nationwide lockdown which has been extended till May 3, 2020. The production in these industries has completely stopped, making it a concern for both the employers, companies and the labourers.
With Prime Minister, Narendra Modi appealing to the industries to be considerate about the employees and not to sack or cut their salaries, it is becoming very tough for smaller companies and brands to survive the lockdown period. Most of them are clueless about the future of the companies and are seeking help from the government to sustain the lockdown period.
One such sector which is facing very tough time is the garment trade. In a letter to Santosh Kumar Gangwar, Minister of State for Labour and Employement, Rakesh Biyani, President, The Clothing Manufacturers Association of India (CMAI), appeals on the Government’s advisory to continue paying full wages to the employee in this crisis situation.
CMAI which represents the Domestic Garment Manufacturing Industry, is one of the highest employers after agriculture, which directly employs close to 12 million employees, with close to 40 percent being women. More than 90 percent of Garment Manufacturers in the country are in the MSME sector, with more than half of these being in the micro-segment.
“COVID19 has plunged the industry into a crisis of unprecedented proportions, threatening the very survival of many of our smaller manufacturers. In a recent survey conducted by CMAI, it has emerged that at least 20 percent of our members believe they may consider closing down their business, unless some Government assistance is provided.
There has been zero revenue for the last 30 days, and if the country tends to remain in lockdown for another 60-90 days, it will be impossible for a small entrepreneur to continue paying wages and salaries to his employees,” states Biyani in the letter.
CMAI, true to its reputation of being most important employment generating industries, urges both, the Central and the State Government to come up with innovative ways of protecting the interests of the workers without causing irreparable losses to the Industry and possibly leading to massive financial bankruptcies in the MSME Sector.
“The garment industry with great difficulty has managed to pay the March salaries to its employees. However, going forward, in a situation where there is no income for such an extended period, it will be impossible for many of our smaller members to continue paying full salaries and wages, unless we receive some government support,” added Biyani further in the letter.