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Coronavirus Crisis: Garment Workers Cover Bosses' Lockdown Losses

The lockdown introduced in March badly hit the manufacturing, providers and retail sectors


From unpaid additional time to wage cuts, the nation’s garment employees say they’re being made to compensate their bosses for the meals, shelter and wage supplied within the coronavirus lockdown.

However it’s a steep value for a workforce that was already juggling low pay and poor situations earlier than the pandemic shuttered their factories and choked orders.

Employees say they’re being supplied the selection of much less cash or working further shifts totally free to pay again their bosses, who dangle the specter of unemployment if workers refuse.

“Employees had been completely not anticipating these COVID cuts once they returned to work,” mentioned Mahesh Gajera, programme supervisor with labour rights charity Aajeevika Bureau.

“They thought their employers had been offering humanitarian reduction throughout the disaster and nobody was instructed that they must compensate for each meal and the cash given when factories had been closed.”

The “COVID cuts” have left tens of 1000’s of garment and textile employees throughout the nation in deep debt, forcing many to drag kids out of college, pawn jewelry and minimize meals to outlive, unions and labour proper campaigners mentioned.

The lockdown introduced in March badly hit the manufacturing, providers and retail sectors, squeezing thousands and thousands out of jobs.

Regardless of state advisories asking employers to pay full wages in lockdown and an enchantment from Prime Minister Narendra Modi to “be sort” to employees, unions mentioned they’ve been flooded with complaints of non-payment.

The place wages had been paid, salaries are actually being docked.

“The employee will compensate for all of the losses and that has been made very clear by firms,” mentioned Sebastian Devaraj, honorary president of the Karnataka Garment Employees’ Union.

“Firms have calculated the variety of further hours a employee has to place in to compensate for lockdown wages. In a single occasion, it’s 208 hours, of which a employee has to work 104 hours with out paid additional time. They don’t have any alternative.”

The labour ministry didn’t reply to repeated requires remark.


The nation’s multi-million-dollar garment business, which employs at the least 12 million folks, was hit when world manufacturers cancelled orders or demanded steep reductions to deal with plunging gross sales.

Okay Selvaraju, secretary normal of the Southern India Mills Affiliation, which has greater than 500 members, denied the allegations and mentioned that producers had gone the additional mile to care for employees regardless of their very own losses.

However employees within the garment hubs of Bengaluru in Karnataka instructed their union leaders that they got a few choices when factories reopened.

They might forgo half their April wages or work further hours totally free, Mr Devaraj mentioned.

“This worry has been whipped up that if employees do not take pay cuts and work tougher, working the manufacturing unit can be troublesome, it will be closed and they’ll lose their jobs,” he instructed the Thomson Reuters Basis.

“Employers are mainly saying that they’re sinking and employees ought to save them or they will even drown. It’s a veiled menace and employees are scared to complain.”

Lawyer Amrish Patel mentioned that it was unlawful for firms to deduct wages looking back and power folks to do additional time.

“These are blatant violations of labour rights,” mentioned Mr Patel.

A employee in Tamil Nadu who requested anonymity mentioned the wage cuts swallowed almost 20 per cent of her take-home pay.

“It has grow to be virtually not possible to pay college charges or the installments for the loans we took throughout lockdown,” she mentioned.

Mr Gajera will get misery calls from employees within the garment hubs of Gujarat daily.

“They do not need to upset their employer however they’re unable to place two sq. meals on their desk,” Mr Gajera mentioned.

“Their misery is mounting and complaints will surge if they aren’t paid their dues by Diwali (pageant) subsequent month.”

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