Q-and-A

Apparel Online - - MIND TREE -

Labour hir­ing and fir­ing has be­come a vi­cious cir­cle for gar­ment ex­porters. If or­ders are not there, fac­to­ries have to fire them, but in case of more or­ders, get­ting labour be­comes dif­fi­cult and fac­to­ries end up pay­ing more to the work­ers. Is there any so­lu­tion to this prob­lem? How are you man­ag­ing the same? Is good HR prac­tice a fea­si­ble so­lu­tion?

Ar­chana To­mar Mann, VP, Com­pli­ance, CSR, Train­ing & De­vel­op­ment, Ori­ent Craft, Gur­gaon

This is­sue de­pends on the sys­tems, and varies from com­pany to com­pany and even fac­tory to fac­tory. And then there are few other fac­tors too which have an im­por­tant role to play in this re­gard. Some of our fac­to­ries have an en­tire work­force on pay­roll, so there is no chance for such a sit­u­a­tion. But look­ing at the sea­sonal na­ture of the busi­ness, in few fac­to­ries, we do have some work­ers on con­tract too.

Since we have pres­ti­gious clients and have a bet­ter un­der­stand­ing and long-term re­la­tion with them, it gives us a fair idea about the amount of work we may have dur­ing the in­com­ing sea­son. We plan ac­cord­ingly and al­lo­cate work. We also hardly see short­age of or­ders, so there is no ques­tion of worker lay-off. Thus, the mind­set of work­ers and the com­pany’s ap­proach to­wards work­ers are ma­jor fac­tors to be taken into con­sid­er­a­tion dur­ing labour hir­ing and fir­ing. As nearly 80 per cent work­force is mi­gra­tory and they do know when and for how much days their fac­tory will have work­load or nor­mal or­ders, when they will work with­out over­time (OT), they plan their leaves ac­cord­ingly and man­age their jobs as well as their work at their vil­lages. We have never asked any worker to leave and sim­i­larly, work­ers also pre­fer to work with us. We have many work­ers who have been with us since decades.

The best pos­si­ble so­lu­tion for the in­dus­try is to keep max­i­mum work­ers on pay­roll and fo­cus on their wel­fare, CSR ac­tiv­i­ties. We, at Ori­ent Craft, are as­so­ci­ated with al­most each and every such pro­gram of buy­ers, be it HERhealth, PACE, Gen­der Equal­ity and many more. We do of­fer schol­ar­ships to our work­ers’ chil­dren to sup­port their ed­u­ca­tion, have proper fo­cus on the health and safety of work­ers and such ini­tia­tives at the end of the day re­ally mat­ter as they de­velop com­mit­ment within the work­ers for their work as well as the fac­tory.

Vikas Ku­mar,

AGM- Op­er­a­tions,

Shahi Ex­ports, Farid­abad

Our com­pany is known for its best prac­tices, be it HR, pro­duc­tion, mar­ket­ing... Work­ers feel proud to work with Shahi Ex­ports and we do hard work for the same. Vis­i­bil­ity of or­ders at the com­pany level as well as fac­tory level, ac­cord­ingly ex­act bal­ance be­tween work­flow, work­ers’ res­ig­na­tion for per­sonal rea­sons, and con­trol­ling the scale of hir­ing are some of our most im­por­tant fea­tures and strate­gies in this re­gard.

I must add here that most of the time, we have good or­ders, but in rare and ex­cep­tional cases re­lat­ing to some sup­ply is­sue or some such un­avoid­able rea­sons, the com­pany does give salary to work­ers sit­ting idle.

Babul Singh, IE Man­ager, Team Krian, Noida

This kind of sit­u­a­tion has the worst ef­fect on a fac­tory which has very less busi­ness for a few months and in this case, they fire most of their op­er­a­tors. Such fac­to­ries re­ally have trou­ble to get work­ers again when they have or­ders dur­ing peak sea­son or nor­mal months. Then they are forced to pay OT, high wages and short-term in­cen­tives etc. to get work­ers to work on the or­ders.

We need to see this pic­ture in a larger per­spec­tive. In last few years, the loy­alty in work­ers has re­duced es­pe­cially among the work­ers of Delhi-NCR. De­lay of even one day in salary is not tol­er­a­ble by most of the work­ers, sim­i­lar is the ap­proach by many fac­to­ries. In case, when fac­to­ries don’t have work, they pre­fer to clear the full and fi­nal pay­ment of work­ers even on any small is­sue rather than of­fer­ing him leave for that lean pe­riod. In last two to three years, many work­ers who used to work in Delhi-NCR, have shifted to other ap­parel man­u­fac­tur­ing hubs like Jaipur, Kan­pur, Ranchi, etc. as cost of liv­ing is less in these cities. Some of these hubs do have full or­ders from do­mes­tic mar­kets and fac­to­ries pre­fer to have work­ers on piece rate. In such cases, work­ers are get­ting more money and are able to save more. So over­all loy­alty and pa­tience in work­ers have re­duced.

There are some fac­to­ries who have a good strat­egy to get more work­ers dur­ing peak sea­son or in case of ex­treme rush. They try to hire ex­tra work­ers through their ex­ist­ing work­ers on pay­roll. This also en­hances bond­ing and co­or­di­na­tion among the work­ers. Some fac­to­ries even man­age to oc­cupy their ca­pac­i­ties by ad­ding man­u­fac­tur­ing for the do­mes­tic mar­ket while they pre­fer ex­port or­ders al­ways. Look­ing at all these ground re­al­i­ties, I must say that fac­to­ries should treat their work­ers fairly and should try to cre­ate loy­alty fac­tor within them.

Nimish Shah, Di­rec­tor, Am­ber Home, Mum­bai

Proper plan­ning and backup or plan B is one of the best so­lu­tions to avoid such a sit­u­a­tion. We plan for al­most four to six months and work ac­cord­ingly. In case of work­load or less work, job­work is an im­por­tant part of our strat­egy. When we have rush of work or have to com­plete big or­ders and labour is not avail­able, we use the ser­vice of job­work­ing fac­to­ries. While when we have ex­cess ca­pac­ity, we also do job­work for oth­ers. It sounds sim­ple and most of the fac­to­ries fol­low the same but we have de­vel­oped a strong re­la­tion­ship with such fac­to­ries

or com­pa­nies who can do job­work for us and can give us the work re­quired. When­ever we have an in­di­ca­tion of less work, we give ex­tra ef­fort to get more or­ders so that ma­chines should not re­main idle and work­ers should not have any neg­a­tive im­pact. And so far, we have re­mained suc­cess­ful as we have never asked any worker to leave due to non-avail­abil­ity of work. Wel­fare ac­tiv­i­ties also play a very im­por­tant role in re­tain­ing work­ers or in mo­ti­vat­ing them to work. It is a nat­u­ral process that should be adopted as when work­ers are taken care by us, they do sup­port us and pre­fer to work with us. And this is a con­tin­u­ing process, not just in case of our need.

Nitin Bothra, Di­rec­tor, Bothra Cre­ation (Lit­tle Dolly), In­dore

Dur­ing fes­ti­val sea­sons we have ma­jor work, we hire ex­tra work­ers through labour con­trac­tors, agents. This is a reg­u­lar prac­tice and we have never seen any prob­lem in this re­gard. To get the job done on time, we do in­crease piece rate or give some ex­tra ben­e­fits. In case we have less busi­ness, rather than re­trench­ment of work­ers, we try to main­tain our stock as some of our styles which are al­ways in de­mand.

Jay Ku­mar, AGM Pro­duc­tion, Mangla Ap­par­els (Crim­soune Club), Delhi

We have a fac­tory at Kundli (Haryana) with a daily ca­pac­ity of 10,000 pieces and we have never wit­nessed any kind of worker short­age or abun­dance in our fac­tory. The credit for this goes to our train­ing ef­forts. There are nearly 30 ex­perts in our train­ing de­part­ment and train­ing is our pri­mary fo­cus. As per plan­ning, we in­crease hir­ing and train peo­ple ac­cord­ing to our re­quire­ment. We train fresh­ers as well as ex­pe­ri­enced work­ers for a spe­cific op­er­a­tion or to en­hance their speed. Fur­ther on-time pay­ment, proper and timely in­for­ma­tion shar­ing with our job­work­ers help us and the work­ers mu­tu­ally as well as en­able us to plan prop­erly and serve each other in a bet­ter way.

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