As the labour strike enters the fifth day, output of unfinished fabrics in Indiaâ€™s biggest man-made fabric industry in Surat has been adversely impacted. The strike by over 10,000 powerloom workers in Bhestan industrial estate for wage hike has curtailed daily production of around 70 lakh metre of fabrics in over 1,000 powerloom units.
The strike is slated to spread across more weaving centres as striking workers have started urging weavers in Katargam, Udhana, Udhana-Magdalla, Limbayat, Varachha, Pandol and other areas to join the wage hike movement. Last week end, some workers at Pandol industrial estate met their unit owners asking for wage hike.
The Surat powerloom sector has an installed capacity of around seven lakh powerloom machines with daily output of three crore metre of unfinished fabrics. These are sold to textile traders, who further despatches the fabrics to textile processing mills for finishing. Out of the total one million workers in the textile industry, at least 7 lakh are employed with the powerloom sector. Of these about 95 per cent are migrants workers.
According to Devesh Patel, president Katargam Weavers Association there was no reason for any increase in wages as of now since they are raised by the unit owners periodically. He noted that workers are trying to take advantage of the fact that the powerloom sector is facing severe labour shortage as many had returned to their native places and will only return in the first week of May.
Meanwhile, Ashok Jirawala, president Federation of Gujarat Weavers Association has warned that the striking workers have started mobilizing support from other industrial areas and will soon launch a city-wide strike for wage hike.
However, the powerloom owners are not prepared for another wage hike as they are also facing significant increases in production cost.
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