[1]Introduction:

Ever since the author has been in touch with this power loom industry for the last 37 years of his career, he finds that this largest power loom sector is always suffering due to one or another cause. Despite this, the number of power looms in Bhiwandi is gradually increasing, with an unofficial figure of 10.5 lakh. (The official figure is 6 lakh.)The Shuttle looms are approx. 10,000 (F2F) and the majority of them are Chinese flexible rapier looms. Slowly, the high-speed Flexible Rapier, Air Jet, Water Jet, and Sulzer looms are being introduced.

It is found that those weavers who manufacture special value-added fabrics like furnishing cloths, decorative fabrics, technical textiles, and export quality suits and shirts are not in a bad situation. Their perspectives are different than those of a common weaver who is always whimpering, not knowing the solutions nor trying to resolve them.

[2] Why do they feel so? Discussion:

The common weavers, who are in the majority, face problems for the following reasons.

  1. No innovative ideas, and unwillingness to pursue new product development.
  2. A lack of a R&D mindset or culture.
  3. There has been no effort to upgrade technology.
  4. Failure to pay proper attention to loom maintenance: They do not have the conception of Man, Machine, Material, Method & Management. They concentrate on supply yarn and demand discounts for every ailment. For them, every fabric fault that occurs is due to the supply of yarn, either warp or weft. Hence, the relationship between the raw material supplier and the weavers gets stained.
  5. They will try to purchase low quality/substandard yarn and try to get the fabric dyed, which is not guaranteed, but for any fault after dyeing, they will put the blame on the yarn.
  6. They procure yarns from more than one yarn supplier, but for any problems such as poor work or defective fabric formation, they put the blame on all the yarn suppliers. Unable to produce a proper invoice or proof, but deduct the amount paid to the yarn suppliers it becomes a tough situation for the customer service team to understand the reality, and the bitterness increases.
  7. The conception of “Quality First” is missing among those common weavers who try to follow unfair practises in selling their clothes.
  8. They do not attempt to train the weavers with the expectation that if they are trained, they will leave the factory and work somewhere with higher wages. However, some of them have taken advantage of ISDS (Integrated Skill Development Scheme). But it was not a successful scheme, as per the author.
  9. Today, every industry requires a skilled workforce from the top to bottom. The authors have observed that the weavers put excess and unnecessary oils on looms, creating oil stains on the fabrics and wasting the machine oils. Skilled labour is not readily available, but it can be acquired with proper training. The MoT and TRA etc. must restart ISDS in a more sophisticated way, not like earlier which was a failure! A skilled workforce will improve quality, product efficiency, and reduce wastage.
  10. They have a poor sales network and are dependent on traders and brokers who dominate the cloth sales price. They should form a cooperative or individual sales network.
  11. The majority of common power loom weavers do not approach TRAs or any service centres for fear of “consulting fees” or the belief that they “may not receive any suitable benefit.” But they must approach the service centres to get proper technical and commercial solutions from the service centres, which should be free. Today, the role of the TRAs is under question. That should be modernized.
  12. The Authors feel that the power loom service centres should be converted into Service Cum Training Centres under MSME or MoT so that young people can come from the rural areas, get training about power looms (operation, maintenance, beam gaiting and knotting, sales and marketing) and either start their own entrepreneurship in their native places or opt for jobs in the power looms (Auto or ordinary looms). During the training period, a stipend can be paid for motivation. Side by side, the owners would register their names to get the trained people for free of cost. The authors also believe that dormitory-style paid housing on a “no profit, no loss” basis can be arranged so that people from rural areas face no difficulties as newcomers.
  13. The weavers must be motivated to fight their own battles in their own way, in the way that is best for them, without expecting any loan from the banks. All the technical and commercial guidance will be given by the TRAs and service centers, but do not expect any bank loans. However, they can have their own cooperative societies, community services, or financiers who can help them start up.
  14. There was a scheme for a “Yarn Bank,” but it was not a successful idea as the yarn prices fluctuated almost every day. However, they can form groups and purchase in huge quantities and instantly directly from the yarn manufacturers, where they can avail a huge discount. Then they can distribute those who require similar deniers or counts among themselves (say, a group of 10 – 15 people).That will give them huge relief.
  15. For the best chance of survival, the wastes generated in their looms towards the bottoms of the pins and beam wastes can be recycled upwards to fetch higher returns. Today they sale it at a much lower price. Proper training can be offered by the service centres or TRAs
  16. Power consumption is another problem in Bhiwandi apart from the power cut. The weavers can be made aware of how to reduce power consumption by proper loom maintenance, reducing the wattage of the tube lights, and by creating awareness of “Switch off the lights/fans when not required”.
  17. Labor charges are increasing year to year, and for that matter, there should be understandings between the owners and the workforce. The salaries of the jobbers and assistant jobbers are fixed depending on the number of looms, but the beam gaiters, wrappers, drawers, richer, oil men, fitters, and weavers are paid on piece rates. Salaries cannot be compromised because of inflation and motivation.
  18. Today the small-time weavers (say 30 looms and below) have kept only one jobber-cum fitter-cum beam gaiter for all 24 hours. The piecing and drawings are done on a contractual basis (as and when required). The weavers get salaries as per the picks. The weavers run 4-6-8 looms to get higher wages, and that benefits the owners also. In auto looms and in medium-sized (say, 40 to 80) Ord Loom Sheds, an assistant jobber is kept at night. The rate of the weavers is also reduced, but they work because of the no availability of other jobs. Most of the loom owners still feel uncomfortable and express unhappiness that they cannot afford higher salaries.
  19. Leaving the job by the weavers and miscellaneous staff is very common and creates a vacuum several times. It becomes more critical for auto or shuttle owners. If there were service centres or training institutions, the chances of the availability of skilled operators were always better.
  20. Providing housing for migrant workers, which will solve huge problems in 80 percent of cases, will solve huge problems.
  21. In Bhiwandi, there should be more textile parks for the selling of their products instantly.
  22. There is, as such, no dye house in Bhiwandi, and the weavers need to spend a huge amount on transportation to send their cloth products outside for wet processing.
  23. After Carona-19, the power looms started to gain momentum, but till Sept 21, hardly 60% of them were working. However, the auto looms and the quality producers are in good condition. Migrant workers are also returning from their native places. One new phenomenon has started that some states have started giving free rations and small time allowances to their people, and they are reluctant to come to Bhiwandi, where they face tough working conditions.
  24. The poor infrastructure, bad road conditions, poor sanitization in the slum areas, improper health services are the big hurdles for the improvements in the Bhiwandi Power loom areas.

[3]  Conclusions:

Bhiwandi is progressing, though in slow motion, despite all the constraints. This is the largest power sector in the world and it must be modernised through the introduction of new ideas. The mindset of the power loom weavers is to be improved for their own benefits. Let them realise that profitability increases with more technical know-how, diversification, and innovative ideas. Profits cannot be made by avoiding the truth. Newer generations, with greater acceptance power, are to be involved. The TRAs and the service centres are to be revamped for the true sense of service. Weaver training centres are to be started on a large scale, which will improve the skills of the weavers. There are lots of opportunities to improve this largest power loom sector with support from MoT, Service Centres, TRAs, etc.

Author:

B.Basu, Textile Consultant.

BTRA Ex-Scientist

Reliance Ind. retired G.M.