Textiles ministry makes case for women to work on night shifts

Textiles ministry makes case for women to work on night shifts New Delhi: The Textiles Ministry on Monday made a case for amending labour laws to allow women to work at night in apparel factories and provide overtime for workers to help make the sector globally competitive.

"Women should be allowed to work in night shifts in the textiles sector as they also work in shifts in BPOs," Textiles Minister K Sambasiva Rao said at a CII function here. "They also want to work in night shifts, but the law does not permit this. So, we will put a Cabinet note in this regard."

Besides, he said, the sector wants flexibility in labour laws to allow overtime. The textiles sector is seasonal. Therefore, everybody has to work round the clock during a particular time of the year.

"I was given to understand that the workers are also willing to work overtime. So, there is a need to amend legislation in this regard as about 45 million workers are employed in the sector," he said.

At a meeting last week of a High-Level Committee on Manufacturing, chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, a road map of measures was laid out to increase textile exports by 30 percent, one of the steps being taken by the government to counter the declining rupee.

The committee discussed ways to boost the country's exports to over USD 44 billion in 2013-14 from about USD 34 billion in the last fiscal.

"It's a very ambitious target, but I am sure we will achieve this," Rao said.

India's apparel exports declined by over 5 percent to USD 12.9 billion in 2012-13 due to weak demand in major markets such as the US and Europe.

To reduce dependence on these markets, exporters are exploring new opportunities in Latin America, Australia and Japan.

Rao earlier today asked apparel exporters to increase their target for overseas sales to USD 20 billion in 2013-14. The Apparel Export Promotion Council had recently raised its export target for 2013-14 to USD 17.5 billion.

PTI