The Tiruppur Exporters’ Association (TEA) has appealed to the Centre to resume normal train operations to enable migrant workers to return so that the factories can run with 100 per cent workforce. According to figures available with the Tiruppur district administration, around 1.27 lakh migrant laborers working in various parts of the district and sectors – not just knitwear -- left for their native states due to COVID-19 scare. Roughly 50 to 55 per cent of them have returned so far.
The local workforce is also not turning to work completely as many live in near-by villages and they fear to report to work even if there is one Covid-19 positive patient in their hamlet. Though the number of people reporting to work from rural areas has increased there is still a shortage of labour, said KG Ganeshan, Partner, Swell Knit.
If the situation remains the same and migrant labourers do not return soon, exporters might not be able to deliver orders on time, he added.
Another exporter who deals with the lucrative EU market said their doomsday prediction has fallen flat with orders from buyers in the past one month even crossing the pre-COVID levels.
Besides the regular apparel orders, several units are still engaged in stitching personal protective equipment (PPE) and face masks which are being exported to other countries.
According to Raja M Shanmugham, President, COVID-19 has presented a wonderful opportunity for exporters in Tiruppur to make further inroads into the international market as many players would be looking to move away from Chinese suppliers without making it public.
Exporters’ also feel they should grab the opportunity that has come knocking at their doors and try to tap the market that might move out of China due to the COVID-19 fear.