Garments industry workers of NCR in dire straits, gasp for financial aid & jobs amid dwindling trade

New Delhi: The COVID-19 pandemic has had an adverse impact on thousands of apparel and garment export companies located in NCR as most of them have either closed their operations or is on the verge of closure amid export restrictions from other countries due to the lockdown.

Many of them have asked their employees to search for jobs in other sectors because of the prevailing uncertainty over the resumption of export in the near future.

The salaries of a majority of the employees have reportedly been put on holds since the COVID-19 crisis hit the nation. As per the estimate, there are over 2,500 export companies in Noida, Gurugram, Greater Noida, Manesar which reportedly provide employment to more than 12 lakh skilled and semi-skilled people.

According to reports, the crisis began when the companies stopped the import of raw materials from another country following which export of the final product also got affected. When the lockdown was imposed, the companies started cutting and even denying salaries to its employees who are mainly tailers and other casual workers. Few of the companies gave salaries of March, few made partial payments asking them to stay at homes till trade resumes.

Traders-cum-exporters and employees, while talking about their plight, claimed that they are in trouble due to the unprecedented situation and could not start trade activities due to import-export ban from foreign countries.

"Since 90 per cent of our trade is based on foreign markets, there was a huge decline in demand since Corona crisis began. Only the domestic market was open which is 10 per cent of our total business. Later, when trade from all countries came to a standstill, uncertainty prevailed over the entire business activity. Now we have no option but to ask a major chunk of the workforce to sit at home. Only 10-20 per cent of employees are coming to perform necessary duties in a majority of the companies," said a trader from Noida.

The traders further elaborated that China and some other countries are the main sources of supply of raw material hence trade was hampered since the early phase of COVID-19 outbreak. On the other side, US and European markets are the main markets for finished products but unfortunately, these countries witnessed a spike in Corona cases hence export was banned in these countries. The severe blow came after a complete ban on all related activities was im[osed after the countrywide shutdown on March 24.

"Since trade activities witnessed a sharp decline, our incentives were withdrawn first. Later we were told to sit at home till further developments. Somehow we were given the salary for March and now there is no communication about this months' salary. The sordid part is that a majority of the working population in such export houses belong to lower rank hence they are facing a

difficult situation at this critical juncture," said an employee working for a Gurugram based company.

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