A new report by the Garment and Textile Workers' Union and Alternative Law Forum (ALF) has documented the alarming figures of forced resignations in the Bengaluru garment industry in 2020. The report stated that 9 out of 25 garment factories surveyed in Bengaluru have closed down, resulting in more than 5,600 workers losing their jobs during the pandemic.
The other 16 factories surveyed also reported job cuts resulting in 11,000 more workers losing their jobs. This included units of Shahi Exports, Texport Creations, Shalini Creations, Supreme Overseas, among several others. Many factories located in the Peenya industrial area and areas like Yelachenahalli and Kenchanahalli in Bengaluru shut down during the pandemic, the report said.
Factory of Bangalore Suits that has been shut
The data is corroborated by records obtained from the Department of Factories and Boilers, which stated that 65 factories were recorded as closed down during the pandemic, leading to over 10,000 workers losing their jobs.
The report documented how the factories were shut down stealthily and workers were asked to resign. Workers in 17 of the 25 factories surveyed said that they had been asked to resign due to losses suffered by their employer. The industry is mostly made up of women workers.
Dress Master Apparels (DMS) in Peenya that was shut-down due to the pandemic
The report said that 81% of the workers surveyed had resigned, while the rest were protesting the closure of the factory. Many workers were forced to accept the resignation as it gave them some money as settlement at a time when they had little or no money during the lockdown.
Sixty percent of the factories that were closed down employed less than 100 workers, which meant that the factory owners did not have to apply for permission from the state government before closure.
The factory of Texport Creations in Bengaluru employed 750 workers
The report also highlighted how the job cuts had adversely affected the nutrition of the workers and their families, with some of them reporting that they had to cut down from three meals in a day to two meals.
TNM had earlier reported how 1,300 garment workers in Karnataka's Mandya district, who were making clothes for international brands like H&M, were laid off without notice in June 2020. This was after a major exporter Gokaldas Exports shut down one of its factories in Srirangapatna town. The workers protested the factory's decision to shut down and were eventually given their jobs back in February 2021.