Karnataka garment factory workers resume protest over overnight layoffs

It was after their weekly shift on Saturday evening that the 1,300 workers at the Mandya garment factory saw the notice that said they have been laid-off.
Karnataka garment factory workers resume protest over overnight layoffs
Karnataka garment factory workers resume protest over overnight layoffs
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Workers at Euro Clothing Company’s factory in Srirangapatna town of Mandya district began a fresh protest on Monday over the decision to lay off 1,300 employees without any warning. 

The factory is affiliated to Gokaldas Exports Ltd, one of the major exporters in Karnataka. The workers found out about the layoff notice on Saturday evening at the end of their weekly work shift. 

The deadlock between the workers and the company's management remained unresolved on Monday with workers sitting within the factory premises protesting the sudden lay-offs. 

Labour department officials scheduled a meeting between the workers and company officials on Tuesday afternoon in Mysuru. SB Ravikumar, Deputy Labour Commissioner, issued a letter to the Managing Director of the Euro Clothing Company- II factory unit based in Srirangapatna and officials from Gokaldas Exporters. In the letter, the labour commissioner detailed the complaints made by the workers and highlighted that the company decided to lay off its employees without forewarning and without informing the state government. 

The workers contended that the lay-off notice issued by the exporter was in violation of the law, particularly section 25M of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947.  

The Act states that prior approval from the “appropriate government” is required to lay-off a workman when the industrial establishment (not being of a seasonal character or in which work is performed only intermittently) has more than 100 workmen employed on an average per working day for the preceding 12 months.  

In the notice issued on Saturday evening, factory manager Manjunath stated that the workers will be laid off and that the work at the factory unit will be reduced in view of shutting it down due to the lack of orders during the COVID-19 crisis. It also stated that the workers will be paid half of their wages and the factory will not be operational.

An impromptu sit-in protest at the factory premises on Saturday evening was diffused when Nagamangala Tehsildar MV Roopa assured the workers that a tripartite meeting will be held along with factory officials on Monday to resolve the matter. 

On Monday morning, workers arrived at the factory premises to stage a fresh protest. Labour department officials asked factory officials to revoke the layoff notice. However, it was met with a 'rigid' response from officials associated with the garment exporter. 

"We held meetings with the officials on Monday but they said that they cited the same reason for laying them off, that is, due to lack of orders in view of the COVID-19 crisis. The labour department has now issued a notice to the company against this decision," said Roopa. 

The Euro Clothing Company's second factory unit, where the 1,300 workers were employed, was established 10 years ago, in July 2010. It manufactures clothes of various Indian and foreign brands, including from the United States of America and Europe. 

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