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The latest victims of the COVID-19 pandemic are almost 1,300 garment workers of one of the factories of Euro Clothing Company located in Srirangapatna, in Mandya district of Karnataka, who lost their jobs overnight on Saturday.
The announcement was made by the factory manager, confirming that workers in the second factory of the company (in Srirangapatna) will be laid off and work at the unit will be reduced in view of shutting it down, The News Minute reported.
It also stated that the factory will no longer be operational and the workers will be paid half of their wages.
While speaking to the media organisation, one of the workers, Pallavi said that the announcement came 'without warning'.
At the time when workers were leaving after completing their shift by 5:40pm, a notice was suddenly stuck outside and announcement of layoffs were made on a mic.
Signed by the factory manager Manjunath, the notice read, "The management of the company has decided to lay off the workers at Srirangapatna plant with effect from June 8, 2020, in the interest of the plant and also to save the employment of the workmen".
The reason for the layoffs is stated as the outcome of COVID-19 pandemic and its effect on the manufacturing activity of the company.
It further read that overseas buyers have cancelled or withdrawn their orders due to uncertain market conditions, which has eventually resulted in the inability of the company to provide employment any further.
Workers staged a protest and demanded answers from officials in the factory. "We told them that laying us off like this is illegal. But we did not get an adequate response from them," Pallavi as quoted.
However, they were later dispersed after Roopa MV, Tehsildar of Nagamangala, who reached at the factory and assured them of conciliation with the authorities.
Roopa said that the workers were not informed about the lay-off notice either.
"When the factory officials shifted some of the machinery last week, we had approached them. They told us that the orders had been existing cancelled and that is why they were shifting the machines. They said that it was only on Saturday that the lay-offs were confirmed," she added.
She informed that the discussion between the workers and officials will be mediated on Monday.
In the light of the incident, Gautam Mody, activist and General Secretary of the New Trade Union Initiative (NTUI) of India, said that the Garment and Textile Workers Union (GATWU) in Karnataka had sent letters to the Labour Department in view of the matter.
The first letter was issued on June 1, where they informed the Labour Commissioner about the removal of machineries in the unit and how they were reducing work with the intention of shutting the factory.
They later issued another notice on June 5 about the company shutting its production without any prior notice, that comes in an industrial dispute under the Industrial Dispute Act.
The factory is affiliated to Gokaldas Exports Ltd, which is one of the major exporters in Karnataka, and has been manufacturing clothes of well known brands from leading retailers in the country as well as Europe and the US.
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