Concerned over possible imposition of lockdowns due to a resurgence in coronavirus infections, the Apparel Export Promotion Council (AEPC) has urged the government to keep factories free from lockdowns and requested for essential service sector tag for the labour-intensive apparel export industry.
For ensuring uninterrupted manufacturing at factories, the industry body has written to the Home Minister, Health Minister, Textiles Minister, Commerce and Industry Minister among others.
“The industry, which supports over 13 million workers directly and many more indirectly, in rural and backward areas and largely comprises MSMEs, will be severely impacted by the disruption, if the lockdown is again imposed in the factories,” AEPC Chairman A. Sakthivel wrote in the letters to the government.
He noted that all factories have been taking stringent measures and following strict health protocols, as per the Ministry of Home Affairs guidelines and other advisories.
The regular tests and check-ups are also being done, Sakthivel said. The apparel exporters are willing to follow even more strict safety measures but would want to avoid even partial lockdowns, he added.
“It is requested that the work at the factories are not disrupted by lockdown and we also request for exempting the apparel export industry as an essential service sector,” the Chairman said, adding that such lockdowns create widespread disruption and impact not just in the short term but also the long term health of the industry.
He said that the apparel export industry recently got back on track, migrant labourers were back, orders have started stabilising and exports are looking up.
“The lockdown, at this point, will disrupt the last one year of hard work put in by the industry in getting back on the global map and on the survival path,” he said.