With a drastic fall of the Rupee, the export sector has turned out to be the only profit-making vertical of the economy that is expected to generate jobs in some of the labour-intensive segments such as textiles, leathers and handicrafts among others.
Exporters are not only offering higher wages, they are also providing several perks so as to retain the workforce, which is deserting them for better opportunities in schemes like Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA).
During the 2008-09 financial meltdown, the export sector witnessed large scale job loss especially in these particular sectors like handicrafts, textiles, garments which are now finding it hard to find the required manpower.
“This is one of those rare moments when we can gain back a significant share of the market. We can give Bangladesh, Vietnam and China a run for their money but the NREGA situation is getting worse every year. Sadly, the workforce is not part of the opportunity,” said Ravi Toshniwal of Banswara Syntex that has a clientele to the likes of Dockers, Levi’s and Next.
Sudhir Dhingra of Gurgaon-based Orient Craft, one of the country’s leading garment exporters said he is having to pay overtime, housing allowance and subsidized food to keep the manpower attracted.
Dhingra, who is expecting a 30-40% topline growth this fiscal over last year, said NREGA has damaged the work spirit. “The comfort of staying at home, near the family is killing the labour spirit. Aspirations are getting subdued. Those days of not focusing on labour as an important component of business is over.”
Dhingra, who employs around 20,000 people mostly from UP, Bihar and Jharkhand, is looking to recruit more. “The level of minimum wages between India and China is not much but the only difference is in quality of talent.”
According to the Labour Bureau, the employment in the exporting units has increased by 282 thousand at overall level during the period June 2013 over June 2012. Some of the topmost export sectors that witnessed rise in employment are textiles, apparels and leather.
The handicrafts sectors that employs a large number of people has urged the government for inclusion of handicrafts artisans in the ambit of NREGA.