The weaver exists at the core of the process of shirt manufacture. He is the foundation of the textile industry. What is condition of weavers in this chain of markets?
The cotton cloth supplied by weavers is sold by merchants at Erode to a garment exporting factory in Delhi. The garment exporter makes shirts with this cloth and exports it to foreign buyers who are mainly the businessmen in the USA and Europe. These businessmen run a chain of shops.
Garment Factory in Delhi
Here it is the businessmen who have more bargaining power:
- They demand the lowest price from the supplier
- They also set high quality standards.
- They set strict timelines for delivery. They deal very strictly with any defect or delay in delivery.
Hence the supplier has to try his best to stick to the conditions of the powerful buyers. In the process they end up exploiting the poor people who work in their factories.
They indulge in cost cutting. They extract maximum work from the workers at the lowest prices (wages). In this way they are able to
- Maximize their profits and
- Supply the garments to the foreign buyers at a low price.
Scenario at garment factories
The workers in a factory are employed on a temporary basis. They may be asked to leave anytime at the whims and fancies of the employer. The wages paid to them is fixed on the basis of their skills. The highest amount paid monthly is Rs 3000/- which is paid to the tailors. Women do ancillary jobs like cutting, buttoning, ironing, etc. They get meagre amount in lieu of their work.
A shirt in the United States
In a large shop in the Unites States, a number of shirts are on display each costing $26, which is equivalent to Rs 1200. It purchases a shirt for not more than Rs. 200 and thus earns huge profit. The garment exporter earns moderate profit after deducting the cost of input and wages.
As mentioned earlier a chain of markets is involved right from the production of cotton to the sale of a shirt, with buying and selling taking place at every stage. However, all the parties in this ‘chain’ do not gain or lose, nor do they gain or lose to the same extent.
Market and equality
Equality is a basic principle in a democracy. It also involves getting a fair wage in the market. In descending order of the gains/earnings, the parties involved in the chain of markets are as under:
- Foreign businessmen
- Garment exporter
- Workers at the garment export factory
The foreign businessman makes huge profits whereas the garment exporter's profits are moderate. Unfortunately, the earnings of the workers at the garment factory is barely enough for their survival. Similarly, the cotton farmers and weavers who have worked so hard hardly earn anything to fulfill their day-to-day needs. The merchants/traders earned much less than the exporter but more than the weavers/farmers.
Benefits of Market: It is because of the market that people get an opportunity to work and earn. They are able to sell their produce/finished product. Whether it is the small farmer, weaver or the merchant and exporter, a market exists for all of them.
Drawbacks of Market: Market are always one-sided. In other words, it is always the rich and the influential who gains maximum from the market. They own large factories, set up big shops, etc. They exploit the poor workers by overburdening them and paying them very low wages. The poor people are dependent on them for:
- Loans for inputs in farms and/or survival
- Raw material and market for goods as in the case of weavers
- Employment as in the case of workers in a factory, shop etc.
These help the weavers to earn a higher income and reduce their dependence on the merchant. In a weaver's cooperative, the weavers form a group and collectively initiate some activities. These activities include,
- Procurement of yarn from the yarn dealer
- Distribution of yarn among the weavers
The government also intervenes at times to help the weavers. For example, in Tamil Nadu the government runs a Free School Uniform programme for which it procures the cloth from the powerloom weaver’s cooperatives. The Co-optex stores are also an example of government intervention for the interest of the weavers. The government buys cloth from the handloom weaver's cooperatives and sells it through Co-optex stores.
- Cooperative: In a co-operative, people with common interests come together and work for mutual benefit.
- Ginning Mill: It is a factory where seeds are removed from cotton bolls. The cotton is sent for spinning after pressing it into bales.
- Exporter: A person who sells goods to other countries.
- Profit: It is also called gain. It is the amount left after deducting all the costs.
- Loss: It is the opposite of profit. If the costs are higher than the earnings, it would lead to a loss.