In the wake of continual manpower shortage and increased competition from Bangladesh, the Indian apparel industry has sought from the Ministry of Textiles to be integrated with the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee (MGNREGA) scheme.
In recent representations being made with the government, the Indian apparel industry has asked the ministry to integrate MGNREGA benefits with that of garmenting units in order to arrest decline in manpower.
"We have been finding it hard not only to attract manpower but also to retain the existing ones, thanks to certain labour law issues and government schemes like MGNREGA. We have made representations to the Ministry of Textiles in this regard which has already begun talks with the respective ministries to work out the same," said Sanjay Jain, president of Kolkata Association of Garment as well as joint managing director TT Limited, an apparel manufacturing company.
Confirming the same, A Sakthivel, chairman of the Apparel Export Promotion Council (AEPC) said that the representations were made recently to the ministry.
"The textile minister has in fact already spoken to the Prime Minister and we are hopeful to receive results soon. The MGNREGA scheme guarantees 100 days employment. The apparel industry is, rather, guaranteeing 300 days employment. This can in turn solve our manpower issues as well," said Sakthivel.
Apart from being integrated with NREGA scheme, the apparel industry has also sought more liberal labour laws with regards to female workers.
"Much of the apparel industry workforce comprises of women, mostly housewives. We are ready to provide better wages and working condition if the laws support overtime work for female workers," Jain added.
According to Rahul Mehta, president of Clothing Manufacturers' Association of India (CMAI), the industry has not only suggested more number of guaranteed work days but also improved wages. "This can also save direct cash outflow for the government under the scheme," said Mehta.
The government is yet decide on the suggestions even as talks continue between concerned ministries, said Sakthivel.