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Garments & Hosiery Industry of Ludhiana

Ludhiana is a leading industrial town of the north Indian State of Punjab and an important center of textile and allied industry. More or less it accounts for about 21 percent of all industrial units and over 28% of the industrial output of the State of Punjab. It is famous for Bicycle & bicycle components industries, ready-made garments, hosiery items, sewing machines and parts & machine tools.

Ludhiana is a leading producer of woolen and acrylic knitwear, although it also uses extensively cotton and other blended fibers to produce a wide range of fabrics, hosiery, knitwear and ready-made garments. The industry caters largely to the domestic market, although it has also been exporting for nearly a century. Consisting of both registered and unregistered units, almost 99% of the ready-made garments, textiles and hosiery industry in Ludhiana are small scale. Apart from these, there are a large number of ancillary and supporting units that manufacture packing material, printed labels, buttons, etc as also Spinning, Dyeing and Embroidery units.

Historically, the domestic market has been the main consumer of textile and garment industry’s products and it has been growing significantly in recent years as income levels among India’s middle class go up and fashion conscious young adult consumers increase. Exports from Ludhiana based garment and hosiery units have generally been around 10% of the total production. Main export markets – till early 1990s, it was former USSR and Middle East and now in recent years it has expanded to other markets in Europe and USA. Punjab exported ready-made garments and hosiery worth about Rs. 1312 crores in the year 2004, which went up to Rs. 1618 crores by March 2005.

Salient  features of the Garment Industry in Ludhiana:
The textiles, hosiery & readymade garments manufacturing can be divided into two groups – hosiery & ready-made garments AND textiles. The hosiery and garments sector is much more labour intensive, small scale, employing 5-40 workers per unit. One of the reasons for this is the methods of production and machinery used which is largely manual operated.

Most of the units (in hosiery, garments, dyeing or embroidery sector) are located in the residential areas. Only some large units are based in the Government promoted industrial estates. Most firms are owner-proprietor managed rather than professionally managed. Working hours in the factories generally are for 10-12 hours a day, 6 days a week. Majority of the industry is producing low value items, with low productivity and low quality generally, using traditional, locally manufactured and fabricated machinery.

Main machinery used are – hand flat knitting machines, circular knitting machines and imported reconditioned knitting machines (second had machines); Knitwear is stitched on multi-thread lock-stitch, chain lock, flat-lock and over-lock machines which are either manufactured domestically or imported.

The industry uses both natural fibres/yarns – cotton, silk, jute & wool and man made fibres such as polyester, viscose, nylon, acrylic and blended fibres. Proper blended yarn of the required quality is often not available at reasonable price.

The industry produces wide range of winter and summer wear - T-Shirts, Pullovers, Cardigans in all blends, Jogging suits, Socks, Jersey, Gloves, Shawls, Sweat Shirts, other inner wear, grey fabric, etc. Ludhiana also supplies fabric to units in Tirupur and other garment centers.

It appears that Ludhiana’s industry does not have its own designing facilities and neither does it employ computer-aided designing/manufacturing. Designs for clothes for the domestic market are generally copied from the magazines, etc or samples provided by the buyers. Embroidery, patchwork, printing and beadwork are done with indigenous machinery and the quality of embroidery is not up to the standards acceptable in international markets.

Dyeing units and the processes are hazardous – polluting, pose major health risks to workers, high energy consuming units, discharge untreated effluents; no safe waste disposal practices; In house testing facilities for color matching and colorfastness are not available in most units.

Hosiery Associations in Ludhiana :
Ludhiana’s Hosiery, Knitwear and related industries have come together to form their own associations – the main objective of which is to enable the industry to collectively deal with the Government for facilities, appropriate policies and support in infrastructure development. Thus there are – Hosiery Industries Association, Ready-made Garment Manufacturers Association, Dyeing Factories Association, Hosiery Welfare Association, Knitwear Club, Wool Club (an Indian association of Woolmark licensees), Ludhiana Weavers Association, North Region Exporters Organisation, Textile Colony Small Industries Association, etc.

Actually there are a large number of employers’ organizations in Ludhiana but most of them are active only on fiscal and legal matters with the government. Very few of them promote linkages with other support organizations or technical institutions or undertake activities designed to upgrade knowledge or improve business and manufacturing practices. Neither do these employers organization discuss and negotiate on behalf of the industry with the unions to set labour standards in the industry.