Chennai, Oct 12 (IANS) Powerloom workers in Tamil Nadu (NS:) are facing a bleak Diwali this year as there are no orders from the master weavers due to the high yarn prices. There are 2.5 lakh powerlooms in Tiruppur district alone which is the textile capital of South India with export orders to various European countries as well as the US.
The sector employs two lakh workers directly and 4 lakh workers indirectly, but with the high yarn prices there is much less work compared to earlier years.
Sundar Rajan, a powerloom employee at Tiruppur, told IANS that “The owners of the looms told us that there is no work due to high yarn prices and that they won’t be able to pay us the bonus during Diwali. We regularly get around 10-12% of our salary as bonus but this year the owner told me that even he is finding it difficult to make ends meet and the bonus won’t be paid.”
He said that he could understand the difficulties faced by the owner with no work and maintaining the unit that includes power charges, salaries to existing employees, and other incidental expenses.
In Pallapalayam village near Coimbatore, around 1500 powerlooms are idle due to the reduction in work.
Somasundaram Raja, a powerloom owner in Tiruppur, told IANS that “The high price of is responsible for the plight of the sector. In July, the price of cotton went up to Rs 1.15 lakh per candy which was earlier available at Rs 50,000. Even though the price has now come down to Rs 70,000, master weavers are apprehensive and orders are not being placed. We are ourselves struggling so how can we pay the workers the Diwali bonus.”
The powerloom owners and workers said that the central government must immediately intervene to regulate cotton prices. Somasundaram said that if there is no intervention, then the Tiruppur powerloom industry would not survive.
He said that the recent hike in power tariff has also affected the powerloom industry and asked Chief Minister M.K. Stalin to reduce the tariff.
With the powerloom sector facing a crisis, many workers have commenced shifting to other industries. Most of the women workers have started working in the garment industry, even though at reduced pay.
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