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.
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.