India’s Textile Hubs Reel as Laborers Stuck Home

India’s Textile Hubs Reel as Laborers Stuck Home

CHENNAI, India—The southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu produces madras cotton, the world-famous textile popular in 18th century Europe and the post-World War United States. Celebrities such as Ashton Kutcher and Jessica Simpson have been spotted in madras, with its unmistakable bright checks, in recent years.

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission says genuine madras cotton must come from Chennai.

Chennai, a city of 7 million, was called Madras until the colonial name was changed in 1996. About 290 miles southwest, though, Tiruppur was the real textile city for several centuries.

“Along with Coimbatore, about an hour’s drive west, Tiruppur exported textiles worth INR 260 billion (about $3.5 billion) in the financial year 2019-20, claim local manufacturers,” said Raja M Shanmugham, an exporter from Tiruppur. “This was about half of India’s total textile exports. And out of this, about 35% went to clients in the US or Europe — including big names like Marco Polo and Tommy Hilfiger.”

As the Covid-19 pandemic exacerbated the trade war between the U.S. and China, textile manufacturers in these towns hoped to cash in. And projections were that about 10% of China’s share in the textile market could come to them.

But even if the orders came about, the stinging labor crisis affecting India will likely make it impossible to fulfill them.

“The industry here is mostly labor-intensive,” Shanmugham said. “About 500 textile manufacturers in Tiruppur and Coimbatore employ about 300,000 people.”

“In Tamil Nadu, most young people join colleges instead of working,” said Prabhu Dhamodaran, an exporter and the convener of the Indian Texpreneurs Federation. “So, most of our labor force comes from the north.”

This statement of Dhamodaran is supported by India’s census data on migrants. Northern Indian states with weaker economies and lack of industry are the biggest sources of migrant workers who travel South in search of employment.

With the pandemic striking hard, India went into a nationwide lockdown in late-March. The police and paramilitary enforced lockdown to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus. But one the other hand, the shutting of factories forced laborers to return home as they suddenly found themselves out of employment and facing starvation and homelessness.

The plight of millions of migrant laborers, who were left without jobs and food was reported widely. With trains, buses and flights having stopped without any prior warning, hundreds died in road accidents or succumbed to starvation and exhaustion as they tried to cover hundreds of miles on foot to get back home.

Non-government organizations such as Social Awareness and Voluntary Education tried to help them out in Tiruppur.

“These laborers were harassed and humiliated in Tiruppur,” said Arockiam Aloysius, director of the organization. “They did not have food or water. Some spent nights in bus stands as they desperately tried to get home.”

Now, even as the factories reopen—despite India recording the highest number of Covid-19 cases across the world for nearly two weeks—workers are refusing to return.

“We only have about 40 percent of our required workforce,” Shanmugham said. “Our order books might improve by the end of August, but we do not have laborers to complete the orders.”

Though the central government is gradually phasing out the lockdown, traveling between states requires one to apply for permission and the Tamil Nadu government extended the state’s lockdown until the end of the month, so people can only travel for essential purposes. Those coming in are also required to be quarantined for at least two weeks.

Textile exporters feel that getting the workforce back will be a serious challenge as they are unable to provide quarantine or other facilities. Dhamodaran, who is based out of Coimbatore, said laborers who want to come back are demanding that their employers provide safe transport and quarantine facilities.

“Some of the larger companies are able to provide this. Others, particularly small and medium scale enterprises that comprise the bulk of employers, can’t do this without help from the government,” he said.

“The Tamil Nadu government is willing to help companies by issuing e-passes to these laborers,” said Thivya Rakini, president of the Tamil Nadu Textile and Common Labor Union. “But these laborers were in such a bad condition that they would not want to come back. Some of them came only because they could not find a job back home.”

So while India may dream of becoming the next big exporter in the textile industry and of reviving the lost glory of the Madras cotton, the reality of India’s unorganized labor sector and systemic blindness to the working class are a wake-up call.

(Edited by Siddharthya Roy and Matt Rasnic.)



The post India’s Textile Hubs Reel as Laborers Stuck Home appeared first on Zenger News.

Who Shot the Sheriff’s Career? Lawman Faces Recall Over Covid Mask Row

Who Shot the Sheriff’s Career? Lawman Faces Recall Over Covid Mask Row

Thurston County’s sheriff may face recall for failing to sufficiently enforce a mask mandate enacted by the Washington Health Department.

The health department’s Amending Order 20-03 follows Washington Gov. Jay Inslee’s declaration of a State of Emergency to deal with the novel coronavirus.

Washington’s mask mandate, in part, requires that people wear face coverings in public spaces and shared places, indoors and outdoors, with some exceptions. Penalties for violating the order include a jail sentence up to 90 days, a fine of $100 for individuals and a fine of $10,000 for businesses.

Petition No. 20-2-01749-34 — “to determine sufficiency of recall charges and for approval of ballot synopsis” — was filed July 2 with the Thurston County auditor by Arthur West and approved by Superior Court Judge Jeanette Dalton July 29 because “an absolute, unilateral refusal to honor the legislators and the secretary of the Department of Health is a classic violation of the oath to follow the law.”

“It’s disheartening to hear that from a judge,” said Thurston County Sheriff John Snaza. “I’ve said this before, but I feel sick to my stomach about it. I feel like crap for how the judge took it.”

Snaza’s department had announced on its Facebook page that it would not criminally enforce the mask mandate “due to the minor nature of this offense.” Other law enforcement entities, including the Olympia Police Department, issued similar statements.

West alleges that Snaza’s policy is a “refusal to perform the duties of his office … impeding State, City, emergency management and hospital officials in their efforts to protect the public during a worldwide pandemic” largely due to the politicization of mask-wearing.

The petition reads: Thurston County Sheriff John Snaza has stated that he will not enforce the criminal provisions of Department of Health Order 20-03. In combination with the politicization of the mask issue in other counties and throughout the Nation, Sheriff Snaza’s actions must be viewed as a political effort to undermine the rule of law and our national and statewide efforts to combat Covid-19. …To the extent any of these acts continuing to refuse to enforce the law were discretionary acts, they were manifestly unreasonable.

The petition also cites the department’s failure to mandate masks for deputies and refers to a statement by Snaza’s twin brother, Lewis County Sheriff Robert Snaza, referring to mask-wearers as “sheep” and “encouraging them to forego wearing masks.”

Robert Snaza’s comments, made in late June, drew nationwide attention and support and ridicule.

West argues that since the Thurston County sheriff has failed to enforce the law and perform the duties of his office, he should face recall.

“Sheriff John Snaza’s statement encouraged residents to violate the emergency efforts of the County, state law, and a public health official’s Orders, were ‘reckless,’ and endangered the rest of the community,” the petition reads.

Dalton’s ruling did not determine whether West’s charges are correct but instead whether the petition met the legal standard for recall and can be made actionable.

“How I phrased it when I made those statements, she felt it was improper,” the sheriff said of the judge. “It’s not my intent (to not enforce), me and my deputies enforce the law. My objective was to say that we’d educate people about masks instead of arresting them.”

For the recall to be considered on an electoral ballot, West must file with the county’s auditor’s office, providing a petition within 180 days that contains at least 23,027 signatures. Snaza can file an appeal before it’s placed on the ballot.

During an initial hearing on the petition, deputing prosecuting attorney Rick Peters, from the county prosecuting attorney’s office, represented the sheriff. It’s not certain whether additional county resources will be allocated to Snaza’s defense.

A statement from the attorney’s office said, “As of July 31, our office and Thurston County has not determined who will be representing Sheriff Snaza if he chooses to appeal the Superior Court decision to permit a recall.”

Snaza is not the first sheriff to face criticism for a response to Covid-related ordinances.

In Washington, Snohomish County Sheriff Adam Fortney faces a recall effort after posting on Facebook in April that Inslee’s stay-at-home orders are “unconstitutional” and he would not enforce them.

Elsewhere, sheriffs in states such as Texas, North Carolina, Wisconsin and Michigan have refused to enforce stay-at-home and masking orders while an Arizona sheriff who refused to enforce stay-at-home orders later tested positive for COVID-19.

Snaza said he hopes he’ll be able to maintain the confidence of county constituents if the petition is successful.

“I’ve never looked at myself as a politician. I look at myself as an elected,” he said. “As an elected, I hope I represent the citizens and enforce the laws and exercise professionalism in every interaction I have with them and ultimately hold myself and the department responsible. I don’t just want to start behaving a certain way because it’s election season. It’s what I do. I’m not perfect. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t make any mistakes, but I’m going to fight to keep my reputation.”

The National Sheriffs’ Association did not respond to requests for comment.

Did you know?

The sheriff system of law enforcement became widespread in the United States during the 19th-century westward expansion, when territorial law enforcement was spotty due to an absence of consistent and enforceable centralized authority.

Historically, sheriffs had some leeway in enforcing laws via the “doctrine of interposition.”

In Washington state last year, sheriffs in 20 counties announced they would not enforce certain firearms restrictions.

As elected officials, they’re mostly autonomous and answer to their constituents.

Some states, such as Connecticut, have abolished the sheriff system and eliminated the office of “high sheriff.”

(Edited by Lisa Neff and Cathy Jones.)



The post Who Shot the Sheriff’s Career? Lawman Faces Recall Over Covid Mask Row appeared first on Zenger News.

Refusing to enforce mask-wearing has a Washington sheriff in hot water

Refusing to enforce mask-wearing has a Washington sheriff in hot water

Thurston County’s sheriff may face recall for failing to sufficiently enforce a mask mandate enacted by the Washington Health Department.

The health department’s Amending Order 20-03 follows Washington Gov. Jay Inslee’s declaration of a State of Emergency to deal with the novel coronavirus.

Washington’s mask mandate, in part, requires that people wear face coverings in public spaces and shared places, indoors and outdoors, with some exceptions. Penalties for violating the order include a jail sentence up to 90 days, a fine of $100 for individuals and a fine of $10,000 for businesses.

Petition No. 20-2-01749-34 — “to determine sufficiency of recall charges and for approval of ballot synopsis” — was filed July 2 with the Thurston County auditor by Arthur West and approved by Superior Court Judge Jeanette Dalton July 29 because “an absolute, unilateral refusal to honor the legislators and the secretary of the Department of Health is a classic violation of the oath to follow the law.”

“It’s disheartening to hear that from a judge,” said Thurston County Sheriff John Snaza. “I’ve said this before, but I feel sick to my stomach about it. I feel like crap for how the judge took it.”

Snaza’s department had announced on its Facebook page that it would not criminally enforce the mask mandate “due to the minor nature of this offense.” Other law enforcement entities, including the Olympia Police Department, issued similar statements.

West alleges that Snaza’s policy is a “refusal to perform the duties of his office … impeding State, City, emergency management and hospital officials in their efforts to protect the public during a worldwide pandemic” largely due to the politicization of mask-wearing.

The petition reads: Thurston County Sheriff John Snaza has stated that he will not enforce the criminal provisions of Department of Health Order 20-03. In combination with the politicization of the mask issue in other counties and throughout the Nation, Sheriff Snaza’s actions must be viewed as a political effort to undermine the rule of law and our national and statewide efforts to combat Covid-19. …To the extent any of these acts continuing to refuse to enforce the law were discretionary acts, they were manifestly unreasonable.

The petition also cites the department’s failure to mandate masks for deputies and refers to a statement by Snaza’s twin brother, Lewis County Sheriff Robert Snaza, referring to mask-wearers as “sheep” and “encouraging them to forego wearing masks.”

Robert Snaza’s comments, made in late June, drew nationwide attention and support and ridicule.

West argues that since the Thurston County sheriff has failed to enforce the law and perform the duties of his office, he should face recall.

“Sheriff John Snaza’s statement encouraged residents to violate the emergency efforts of the County, state law, and a public health official’s Orders, were ‘reckless,’ and endangered the rest of the community,” the petition reads.

Dalton’s ruling did not determine whether West’s charges are correct but instead whether the petition met the legal standard for recall and can be made actionable.

“How I phrased it when I made those statements, she felt it was improper,” the sheriff said of the judge. “It’s not my intent (to not enforce), me and my deputies enforce the law. My objective was to say that we’d educate people about masks instead of arresting them.”

For the recall to be considered on an electoral ballot, West must file with the county’s auditor’s office, providing a petition within 180 days that contains at least 23,027 signatures. Snaza can file an appeal before it’s placed on the ballot.

During an initial hearing on the petition, deputing prosecuting attorney Rick Peters, from the county prosecuting attorney’s office, represented the sheriff. It’s not certain whether additional county resources will be allocated to Snaza’s defense.

A statement from the attorney’s office said, “As of July 31, our office and Thurston County has not determined who will be representing Sheriff Snaza if he chooses to appeal the Superior Court decision to permit a recall.”

Snaza is not the first sheriff to face criticism for a response to Covid-related ordinances.

In Washington, Snohomish County Sheriff Adam Fortney faces a recall effort after posting on Facebook in April that Inslee’s stay-at-home orders are “unconstitutional” and he would not enforce them.

Elsewhere, sheriffs in states such as Texas, North Carolina, Wisconsin and Michigan have refused to enforce stay-at-home and masking orders while an Arizona sheriff who refused to enforce stay-at-home orders later tested positive for COVID-19.

Snaza said he hopes he’ll be able to maintain the confidence of county constituents if the petition is successful.

“I’ve never looked at myself as a politician. I look at myself as an elected,” he said. “As an elected, I hope I represent the citizens and enforce the laws and exercise professionalism in every interaction I have with them and ultimately hold myself and the department responsible. I don’t just want to start behaving a certain way because it’s election season. It’s what I do. I’m not perfect. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t make any mistakes, but I’m going to fight to keep my reputation.”

The National Sheriffs’ Association did not respond to requests for comment.

Did you know?

The sheriff system of law enforcement became widespread in the United States during the 19th-century westward expansion, when territorial law enforcement was spotty due to an absence of consistent and enforceable centralized authority.

Historically, sheriffs had some leeway in enforcing laws via the “doctrine of interposition.”

In Washington state last year, sheriffs in 20 counties announced they would not enforce certain firearms restrictions.

As elected officials, they’re mostly autonomous and answer to their constituents.

Some states, such as Connecticut, have abolished the sheriff system and eliminated the office of “high sheriff.”

(Edited by Lisa Neff and Cathy Jones.)



The post Refusing to enforce mask-wearing has a Washington sheriff in hot water appeared first on Zenger News.