With over 30,000 power loom units producing rayon fabrics halting production for a week beginning July 3 due to mounting loss, unit owners claim over one lakh workers, directly and indirectly, would lose their livelihood during this period.
As many as 55,000 units function across the district of which about 30,000 are at Veerappanchatiram, Ashokapuram, Manickampalayam, Lakkapuram and Chithode manufacture rayon fabric. These units also produce dhotis and saris for the State government that are distributed free of cost to beneficiaries every year.
L.K.M. Suresh, president, Erode Power Loom Owners’ Association, said 24 lakh metre of rayon fabric was produced every day in which 50,000 workers were directly involved while others, including autorickshaw drivers, loadmen, knotting and sizing units workers, were indirectly involved. Also, nearby tea shops, hotels and other sectors were dependent on the power loom units for their business activities. “But we are facing a loss of ₹3 per metre for producing rayon fabric and to reduce the loss, we are forced to halt production,” he said.
About one crore metre fabric worth ₹6 crore were being produced every day and due to the halt in production, workers, who earned an average of ₹3,000 to ₹3,500 a week, lost their livelihood. Unit owners said they were not in a position to provide half-wages to the workers, but were helping them with essential commodities.
Association coordinator B. Kandavel said the price of finished rayon fabric was low when compared to its procurement. The price of cotton had dropped and the demand for rayon fabric had also come down.
The coordinator added that dyeing and printing was usually done at Surat, Mumbai, Rajasthan and Kolkata where the rainy season has started. “The State government should establish Common Effluent Treatment Plants (CETPs) in the district so that dependency on North Indian States for dyeing and printing would reduce significantly,” he added. Also, job work could be done at the government processing mills and an e-marketing system could be introduced for the sector so that more market opportunities could be tapped, he said.
Owners also wanted the State government to immediately release the orders for manufacturing free dhotis and saris so that units could be operated continuously. They have decided to meet on July 8 to decide the further course of action.