Apparel Export Promotion Council urges government to exempt factories from lockdowns
As local lockdowns return to numerous locations, the Apparel Export Promotion Council has urged the government to exempt factories from these measures to keep India’s textile and apparel industry afloat.
On Monday, the AEPC assured the government that apparel factories are taking strong precautions to prevent the spread of Covid-19 and implored ministers to keep them open in areas facing local lockdowns. AEPC chairman A Sakthivel stated that factories would be happy to follow even stricter social distancing measures, as long as they can avoid local lockdowns, the Press Trust of India reported.
“The industry, which supports over 13 million workers directly and many more indirectly, in rural and backward areas and largely comprises MSMEs [Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises], will be severely impacted by the disruption if the lockdown is again imposed in the factories,” said Sakthivel in a statement.
The AEPC has asked for the apparel sector to be treated as an essential service sector, due to its importance for the Indian economy and citizens’ employment. Any halt to factory operations would cause long term disruption, it said.
The apparel industry was greatly affected by last year’s lockdown. As daily wage workers saw their income dry up, many returned to their hometowns and villages leaving a labour shortage when operations began to restart. Many apparel businesses are still working towards recovery and the AEPC is keen to keep export operations running so India does not loose out to its competitor apparel producing nations.
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