Textile job losses mount as 150 mills down shutters

Job losses are showing up in labour-intensive industries such as textiles, the country's largest employer after agriculture. A total of 150 cotton and man-made fibre textile mills in the organised sector employing over 50,000 workers are estimated to have closed down in the last four years. If the mills in the SSI sector were included, the number would be higher. Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra top the list of states where most organised-sector mills have closed down.

The textile sector has been hit by a sharp fall in cotton yarn prices and poor domestic and global demand, with the problem being compounded by the economic crisis in the US and Europe. These two markets account for 65 per cent of the country's textile exports. Industry organisation Apparel Export Promotion Council (AEPC) estimates that job losses over the past three years are much higher than government estimates, at about 45 lakh persons. According to AEPC Chairman A Sakthivel, domestic banks are sending out closure notices and this is hurting small units the most because of credit problem.

Data compiled by the textile ministry shows that the larger mills forced to down shutters include Ahmedabad-based Asoka Cotsyn of Arvind Mills, which had 904 workers on its rolls, and a unit of Maneklal Harilal Mills in Ahmedabad, with 1,615 workers. In Maharashtra, a Mumbai-based mill of Bombay Dyeing and Morarjee Goculdas Spinning and Weaving, with 2,852 workers, has downed shutters. In Tamil Nadu, the Tirunelveli-based unit of Coats Viyella — Madura Industrial Textiles — with 2,475 workers, has wound up operations. In UP, the Allahabad-based Mau-Aima Sahkari Katai Mills, with 1,419 workers, and the Fatehpur-based UP Sahakari Katai Mills, with 1,099 workers, are among those forced to close down in the wake of viability concerns and labour trouble.

In all, according to government estimates, a total of 1,957 textile mills were reported to be operating in the country. As an interim measure, the Centre has floated the Textile Workers Rehabilitation Fund Scheme (TWRFS) in a bid to provide temporary relief to the textile workers rendered unemployed as a consequence of permanent closure of any particular portion or entire textile unit in the private sector, officials with the textile ministry said. Assistance under the Scheme is payable to eligible workers after the mill is formally closed for the purpose of enabling them to settle in another employment.

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