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Dearth in workforce faced by handicraft exporters

Jun '10
Exports of the Indian handicrafts industry are facing dearth in labour force, at a time when there is an increase in the demands for Indian-produced handicrafts in the Western markets and exporters are rushing to make timely delivery to fulfill their Christmas orders.

With orders in hand and more in the pipeline, we are faced with acute shortage of workforce, informed, Export Promotion Council for Handicrafts (EPCH), Chairman, Raj Kumar Malhotra to PTI.

Majority of the handicraft centres such as Aligarh, Panipat, Moradabad and Jodhpur, are currently demanding, skilled artisans. Malhotra averred that, government should alter the labour laws and permit the labourers to work overtime.

According to the current laws, an employer cannot force or ask the labourer to work for extra hours, even if the employer wants to and he/she is given due compensation, over 50 hours in a period of three months, added Malhotra.

Being also a member of the Board of Trade in the Commerce Ministry, Malhotra also informs that, the government wants the handicraft industry to surge the head count. But with increase in head count will demand better, improved infrastructure as well, for which regular incoming business is required. Export of handicrafts is a seasonal business and order books get filled accordingly.

Even if the government does not permit the 'hire and fire' right to industry owners, they should atleast be granted terms that can help change the work timings from 8 to 10 hours per day

Bulk orders have been received for Christmas, from the US and European markets, which need to be delivered months before the onset of festival season. With the recovery of Indian handicrafts demands, better orders have been received and dispatch of these goods will take place by July, informed Malhotra.

With huge stores' reducing number in inventory levels, EPCH expects a surge of 15-20 percent in the handicraft exports during the current year. During 2009-10, India's exports of handicrafts totalled to $1.83 billion, recording a slight rise of 1.80 percent over the previous year.

India comprises of a rich array of hand-made artefacts, which are exported globally, such as, art-metal wares, hand-printed textiles and scarves, embroidered and crochered products and the like.

Providing jobs to over seven million artisans, this employment-oriented sector came under pressure during world economic downturn during second half of 2008-09 fiscal. This had lead to a decrease in exports by over 48 percent to $1.79 billion in 2008-09. US accounts for nearly 30 percent of the international market for Indian handicraft goods.

Fibre2Fashion News Desk - India

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