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Maharashtra govt’s new uniform policy may lead to the closure of the existing manufacturing units and leave over 50,000 skilled workers unemployed…


Maharashtra: Textile producers, MSME and the industrial units are reeling under uncertainty and unrest as the state government has announced to supply school uniforms in a centralized manner from the upcoming educational year. The decision will lead to the closure of hundreds of manufacturing units and leave over 50,000 skilled workers including women unemployed. Pointing out that the bidding process which has been started to roll out the supply of school uniforms through a centralised mechanism is full of errors, Maharashtra Kapad Vyapari Sangh (MKVS)has urged the government to take all the stakeholders into confidence before going ahead with the plan.

It may cause inconvenience to students if the bidder fails to manufacture 9 million units of uniforms in just four months .

Maharashtra Kapad Vyapari Sangh has urged the govt to take all the stakeholders into confidence before implementing the scheme

The Sangh has stated that the bids that have been invited for the supply of school uniforms are full of errors. It has the provision of providing pieces of cloth as per the standard of the student, without considering the fact that one size of the uniform cannot fit all the students in the same class. This would lead to the waste of the cloth leading to the losses to the public money. Since the bids have been invited from across the country, there is the possibility of Maharashtra losing its business if the bid is awarded to a supplier outside the state. This would also lead to the shutting down of the industrial units in the state and GST losses to the state exchequer, MKVS has stated.

“Since the bids have been invited centrally, it is likely to be awarded to a big industrial player. It will result in the closure of the existing industrial units engaged in the manufacturing of the uniforms. The terms and conditions of the bid are so oppressive that participation in it is simply impossible for the Micro, Small Medium Enterprises (MSME) units. The state has claimed that the manufacturing of the uniforms will be awarded to the Self Help Groups (SHG) run by women. However, it has not been examined if the Womens’ SHGs have adequate resources, state-of-the-art machines, and skilled manpower. The MSME industrial units that are already engaged in this sector have all these resources including machines. The state government should consider this aspect,” said Lalit Kumar Vaid, member, MKVS.

The Sangh has stated that since the policy of centrally supplied uniforms is being implemented without due preparations. It has also questioned how is the supplier going to manufacture 9 million uniforms in just four months remaining for the new academic year to begin. The bid has specified the requirement of polyester viscose when the actual need should be polyester cotton. The content of more cotton in the uniform cloth is always preferable as the polyester viscose may lead to pilling in the future, Sangh has pointed.

Though the state government is planning to implement the uniform scheme through SHGs, it is not clear whether these SHGs have adequate manpower and state-of-the-art machinery. “There is no information available to show whether a survey of these SHGs has been conducted to review their preparedness. To manufacture quality uniforms, the manufacturing units need pattern machines, auto sewing, overlock, and other types of machines including button, buttonhole sewing, and elastic machines. There is no clarity on whether the women SHGs have all these facilities. They would not be in a position to provide quality uniforms if they were not equipped with manpower and adequate machines. It may lead to the inconvenience to the students,” Shree Vaid added further.

“We are in favour of the women empowerment the government is aiming at. However, it cannot be underestimated that the existing industry of uniform manufacturers accounts for 40% of the women employees in it. They all are skilled workers. There are more than 4000 women workers engaged in the uniform manufacturing industry in Solapur alone. The government’s proposed policy will leave not only these women workers unemployed but also lead to the loss of jobs to their male counterparts as well. Apart from it, the industrial units in this sector will face the closure,” said Shri Vaid.

Shri Vaid has urged the government to have a dialogue with all the stakeholders before implementing the scheme. “The number of the women SHGs is barely 125, which is too low to supply the required number of uniforms. The government needs to hold meetings with all the stakeholders including industrial units, MSME, Women SHGs, and workers to understand their issues before rolling out the scheme,” he added.

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