With orders in hand from America and EuropeExporters are concerned about how to meet their obligations. Similarly, leather goods exporters are flooded with orders from global markets, but rising COVID cases among workers are creating manpower shortage in the units.
“Earlier, we were operating at 70 per cent capacity. But now, all of a sudden, there has been an influx of orders from the US and Europe. Migrant workers were coming slowly. But the rising covid cases have stalled the process and we are in the dark about how to handle the orders. Lalit Thukral, President, Noida Apparel Export Cluster said, “We have also taken up the matter with the Uttar Pradesh government.
Before the arrival of Covid, the Noida export cluster had a total workforce of 10 lakh, of which 50 per cent were migrant workers. Gradually, migrant workers started arriving and by the end of the second wave, about 2 lakh migrant workers had returned. The units were comfortable with 7 lakh workers. But with the sudden surge in demand, they need an additional 3 lakh workers – who are mainly tailors and specialize in embroidery work.
“Apart from rising cotton prices, this is an additional problem affecting the exporting units. Cotton prices which were at Rs 37,000 per candy of 335 kg in September 2020 have gone up to Rs 70,000 in December 2021,” Thukral said. Noida Apparel Exports Group exports goods worth around Rs 30,000 crore annually.
Export units in Noida fear that a part of their business may shift to countries like Bangladesh and Vietnam if they do not place export orders on time due to paucity of manpower and rising cotton prices.
While textile exporters in Noida are facing the problem of non-availability of migrant workers, leather export units in Kolkata, Mumbai and Delhi are witnessing a decline in workforce due to rising cases of COVID-19.
“Cases are increasing in Mumbai, Delhi and Kolkata where many leather goods exporting units are based.
Double immunization workers are falling prey to this new form of covid and hence manpower is getting affected. We have orders in hand. But the rapid fall in manpower supply is becoming a major concern,” said Ramesh Juneja, a leading exporter of leather goods and regional president of the Council of Leather Exports.
About 7-8 lakh people are employed in the units located in these three metros.