Mr. Sajid Ansari, president of Malegaon Powerloom Udyog Vikas Sanghatana, has worked for his powerloom firm for decades. As president of the Malegaon powerloom industrialists, he represents them now. While Covid-19 devastated the worldwide economy, it had a distinct impact on the global textile sector. It has not only reduced exports and imports, but it has also impacted the textile industry’s output and workforce. It has not only reduced exports and imports, but it has also impacted the textile industry’s output and workforce.

Malegaon was one of the worst-affected cities in Maharashtra, which was the worst-affected state in the country. Malegaon suffered significant effects during the lockdown, since their business was closed for months, bringing financial hardship to not just laborers but also industrialists. The Malegaon industry is experiencing certain difficulties and need assistance from the government. Let’s look at the challenges confronting the Malegaon industry and why they’ve been on strike for a week in an exclusive interview with Mr. Sajid Ansari.

How do you think Covid-19 lockdown has affected Malegaon powerloom industry?

Malegaon is the state’s second largest powerloom cluster, behind Bhiwandi. The Malegaon powerloom sector suffered greatly as a result of the lockdown. For three months, the industry was totally shut down, resulting in a financial catastrophe among workers and employers. Malegaon’s 250,000 power looms employ around 150,000 laborers, each of whom works at three to four power looms. We had to assist our workers during the lockdown because the industry had been closed for so long. Because the industry was closed, many people’s sources of income were also cut off. Not only has our company declined since the lockdown, but there has also been a notable reduction in exports. We’ll need additional time to recover from the effects of the lockdown.

What are the challenges confronting the Malegaon powerloom sector, and how do you intend to address them?

Addition to economic and commercial losses I stated before, we also received large electricity taxation from the government during our industry’s lockdown. We are not capable of clearing such huge bills right now that too for something which we have not even used. Overcoming the losses caused by lockdown is a major task right now. We are also dealing with a major issue with yarn price betting, which is a bad activity that is causing problems for all industrialists. As a result, we are unable to make the earnings that we deserve. We must not only pay our expenses, but also meet the needs of our workforce, keep our business operating, and support our families. Because of all of these issues, we are on indefinite strike until the government agrees to our demands.

What is the strike’s objective, and what do you anticipate from the government?

We would like our government to waive the power costs for the month in which the industry was closed owing to the shutdown. We are unable to pay such a large sum, thus we are on strike, asking that those expenses be waived for us. In addition, we anticipate that the government will offer us with a subsidy for our power costs in the future. The government is willing to subsidize our power costs in exchange for adequate documentation from our industry. However, because the powerloom business has been present in Malegaon for many decades, paperwork is a major issue. Someone from our family’s older generation founded the powerloom firm that we now manage. They didn’t have adequate paperwork back then, and we don’t either. 

We also have a significant problem with yarn pricing fluctuations. Prior to 2016, commodity yarn prices remained steady. Yarn prices have been wildly fluctuating since 2016. We want those pricing to stabilize and remain consistent across the cluster.

We want our government to look into this matter and learn more about our predicament. Malegaon had already been ravaged by the previous year’s lockdown. We are attempting to cope with and overcome our losses. We expect the government to meet our expectations.

The government’s reaction to the strike?

We’re already in talks with the government. We’ve spoken with our textile minister, and the matter is being discussed in cabinet. It will also be discussed with the central government. We expect our strike to be short-lived since the government will soon approve our demands.

Who is taking part in the strike? How did you go about implementing it, and how do you believe the strike would affect those who take part in it?

The whole Malegaon powerloom business is participating in the strike, which comprises industrialists, labor, and all those who are interested. The whole industry has been put on hold, and we will only begin operations after the government has met our requests.

The strike would have an impact on all of us. We would not have any money till the strike ended since we are not working. It will also have an impact on our manufacturing and present orders. Most significantly, it would have an impact on the working class. Even though we are taking care of our workers, we are aware that it will have a financial impact on them.

But, in the end, this entire strike is for the benefit of the Malegaon powerloom sector, and it will undoubtedly generate positive consequences in the long run.