K’taka Government Data Shows 32,000 Garment Jobs Lost in 3 Years | Bangalore News

Bangalore: The garment industry, second only to agriculture in terms of job creation in the country, has seen unprecedented turnover.
Data released by the Department of Commerce shows that more than 180 garment factories closed between 2019 and 2021 in Karnataka, leaving around 32,500 people, 66% of them women, out of work.
In total, no less than 83,190 people have lost their jobs since 2019, almost 40% of whom are workers in the ready-to-wear industry. In the six garment units that reported the most layoffs, 1,870 men and 5,710 women lost their jobs. All these six units were in Bengaluru.
The Garment and Textile Workers Union (GATWU), however, claims that even these figures are grossly understated. The organisation’s chairman, Pratibha R, said 4,000 lakh garment workers lost their jobs in the first two waves of Covid-19 in Karnataka alone, and a significant number of them did not have not received compensation or legitimate severance packages.
The ready-to-wear industry was affected even before Covid. Many companies have moved to Bangladesh, Vietnam and the Philippines, given their lower labor cost compared to India.
The GATWU and the Garment Labor Union (GLU) allege the industry has used the pandemic as an excuse to impose workforce reductions. “During the mass layoffs, Indian suppliers, who export ready-to-wear garments to international brands, claimed that due to order cancellations or non-payments from their customers, they had been forced to laying off workers and closing factories. But we’ve corresponded with the brands about the non-payment, and most of them have denied the allegations. Some said the contracts were only delayed and not cancelled,” GLU Chairman Rukhmini VP told TOI.
However, Naseer Humayun, regional secretary of the Clothing Manufacturers Association of India (CMAI), said the organization estimates that garment and textile exports have fallen from $40.4 billion in 2018-19 to 36.9 billion. billion in 2019-20. And then, he noted, there was a shutdown of production for more than 70 days during the Covid shutdowns. “Order cancellations have also been widespread during the pandemic,” he said.
The industry says the environment is improving now. Siva Ganapathi, CEO of Gokaldas Exports, said that after the challenges of 2020, demand started to pick up in US markets in 2021 and retail sales figures were higher than in 2019. “European markets were relatively slow. Nevertheless, the export houses are doing well and are looking to hire more workers now,” he said.

Michael O. Stutler