Labour starved mills in South India lean on North East for manpower

Textile firms in South India have started looking at the North-Eastern states to address labour shortages in their factories. The mills have said that the Tripura government is the first to respond and that the units would soon come out with a code of conduct for migrant workers.

Tamil Nadu accounts for nearly 45 per cent of the spinning capacity in the country, 70 per cent of the knitted garment manufacturing capacity and 22 per cent of weaving. Around six million people are directly employed by the sector.

The sector has been facing labour shortage the past ten years or so, due to exponential growth in manufacturing facilities.  

In major clusters like Coimbatore, Tirupur, Dindigul, migrant workers account for anything between 30 per cent and 90 per cent of the workforce, depending on the mills.  

P Nataraj, chairman, SIMA, said that with the increase in demand for migrant workers across the nation, the mills started facing high attrition.  Therefore, SIMA has started direct recruitment on its formal placement cell for its members, and is sourcing human resources from Tripura for starters.  

Nataraj added that the mills face numerous problems in sourcing, mobilising, recruiting  and retaining migrant workers for a reasonable period. In order to overcome these issues, SIMA had written to the Labour and Employment Departments of various states upcountry including the North Eastern States.  The Government of Tripura immediately responded and came forward to extend all support for recruitment and organised an exclusive Job Fair with SIMA.

Around 4,000 unemployed youths, both male and female, attended the Job Fair from various districts of Tripura. The direct recruitment exercise would help the mills source the right candidates, Nataraj said. 

He added that the Association would soon come out with a code of conduct for the employment of migrant workers as a proactive measure to meet all the legal and social requirements. 

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